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Copyright 1923 Columbia University Press 
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35. The Early Scholastics: Peter Abelard and Hugh 

OF St. Victor 3 

36. Adelard of Bath 14 

37. William of Conches 50 

38. Some Twelfth Century Translators, Chiefly of 

Astrology from the Arabic 66 

39. Bernard Silvester; Astrology and Geomancy . . 99 

40. Saint Hildegard of Bingen 124 

41. John of Salisbury 155 

42. Daniel of Morley and Roger of Hereford .... 171 

43. Alexander Neckam on the Natures of Things . . 188 

44. Moses Maimonides 205 

45. Hermetic Books in the Middle Ages 214 

46. Kiranides 229 

47. Prester John and the Marvels of India .... "Z^^d 

48. The Pseudo-Aristotle 246 

49. Solomon and the Ars Notoria 279 

50. Ancient and Medieval Dream-Books 290 


Foreword 305 

51. Michael Scot 307 

52. William of Auvergne 338 

53. Thomas of Cantimpre 372 

54. Bartholomew of England 401 

55. Robert Grosseteste 436 

56. Vincent of Beauvais 457 

57. Early Thirteenth Century Medicine: Gilbert of 

England and William of England 477 




58. Petrus Hispanus 488 

59. Albertus Magnus 517 

I. Life 521 

II. As a Scientist 528 

III, His Allusions to Magic 548 

IV. Marvelous Virtues in Nature 560 

V. Attitude Toward Astrology 577 

60. Thomas Aquinas 593 

61. Roger Bacon 616 

I. Life 619 

11. Criticism of and Part in Medieval Learning . 630 

III. Experimental Science 649 

IV. Attitude Toward Magic and Astrology . . . 659 

62. The Speculum Astronomiae 692 

63. Three Treatises Ascribed to Albert 720 

64. Experiments and Secrets: Medical and Biological . 751 

65. Experiments AND Secrets: Chemical AND Magical . 777 

66. PiCATRix 813 


68. Arnald OF Villanova 841 

69. Raymond Lull 862 

70. Peter of Abano 874 

71. Cecco d'Ascoli 948 

72. Conclusion 969 


General 985 

Bibliographical 1007 

Manuscripts . . . 1027 





Chapter 35. 

" 37- 

" 38. 

" 39- 

" 40. 

" 41. 

" 42. 





The Early Scholastics : Peter Abelard and 

Hugh of St. Victor. 
Adelard of Bath. 
William of Conches. 
Some Twelfth Century Translators, chiefly 

of Astrology from the Arabic in Spain. 
Bernard Silvester : Astrology and Geomancy. 
St. Hildegard of Bingen. 
John of Salisbury. 
Daniel of Morley and Roger of Hereford ; or, 

Astrology in England in the Second Half 

of the Twelfth Century. 
Alexander Neckam on the Natures of Things. 
Moses Maimonides. 
Hermetic Books in the Middle Ages. 

Prester John and the Marvels of India. 
The Pseudo-Aristotle. 
Solomon and the Ars Notoria. 
Ancient and Medieval Dream-Books. 




Relation of scholastic theology to our theme — Character of Abe- 
lard's learning — Incorrect statements of his views — The nature of the 
stars — Prediction of natural and contingent events — The Magi and the 
star — Demons and forces in nature — Magic and natural science — Hugh 
of St. Victor — Character of the Didascalicon — Meaning of Physica — 
The study of history — The two mathematics : astrology, natural and 
superstitious — The superlunar and sublunar worlds — Discussion of 
magic — Five sub-divisions of magic — De bestiis et aliis rebus. 

The names of Peter Abelard, 1079-1142, and Hugh or 
Hugo of St. Victor, 1096-1141, have been coupled as those 
of the two men who perhaps more than any others were the 
founders of scholastic theology. Our investigation is not 
very closely or directly concerned with scholastic theology, 
which I hope to show did not so exclusively absorb the in- 
tellectual energy of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries as 
has sometimes been asserted. Our attention will be mainly 
devoted as heretofore to the pursuit of natural science during 
that period and the prominence both of experimental method 
and of magic in the same. But our investigation deals not 
only with magic and experimental science, but with their 
relation to Christian thought. It is therefore with interest 
that we turn to the works of these two early representatives 
of scholastic theology, and inquire what cognizance, if any, 
they take of the subjects in which we are especially inter- 
ested. As we proceed into the later twelfth and thirteenth 
centuries in subsequent chapters, we shall also take occa- 
sion to note the utterances of other leading men of learning 
who speak largely from the theological standpoint, like John 
of Salisbury and Thomas Aquinas. Let us hasten to admit 


of schol- 
to our 


of Abe- 

of his 

also that the scholastic method of instruction and writing 
made itself felt in natural science and medicine as well as 
in theology, as a number of our subsequent chapters will il- 
lustrate. In the present chapter we shall furthermore be 
brought again into contact with the topic of the Physiologus 
and Latin Bestiaries, owing to the fact that a treatise of 
this sort has been ascribed, although probably incorrectly, 
to Hugh of St. Victor. 

There is no more familiar, and possibly no more impor- 
tant, figure in the history of Latin learning during the 
twelfth century than Peter Abelard who flourished at its 
beginning. His career, as set forth in his own words, illus- 
trates educational conditions in Gaul at that time. His 
brilliant success as a lecturer on logic and theology at Paris 
reveals the great medieval university of that city in embryo. 
His pioneer work. Sic et Non, set the fashion for the stand- 
ard method of presentation employed in scholasticism. He 
was not, however, the only daring and original spirit of his 
time; his learned writings were almost entirely in those 
fields known as patristic and scholastic; and, as in the case 
of Sic et Non, consist chiefly in a repetition of the utter- 
ances of the fathers. This is especially true of his state- 
ments concerning astrology, the magi, and demons. To 
natural science he gave little or no attention. Nevertheless 
his intellectual prominence and future influence make it ad- 
visable to note what position he took upon these points. 

Although not original, his views concerning the stars 
and their influences are the more essential to expose, because 
writers upon Abelard have misunderstood and consequently 
misinterpreted them. Joseph McCabe in his Life of Abe- 
lard,^ for instance, asserts that Abelard calls mathematics 
diabolical in one of his works. And Charles Jourdain in his 
in some ways excellent - Dissertation sur I'etat de la philo- 
sophic natiirelle en Occident et principalemcnt en France 
pendant la premiere nioitie du Xlle siecle, praises Abelard 

' J. McCabe, Peter 
New York, 1901. 


' Especially considering its date, 
Paris, 1838. 




nature of 
the stars. 

for what he regards as an admirable attack upon and criti- 
cism of astrology in his Expositio in Hexameron, saying, 
"It will be hard to find in the writers of a later age anything 
more discriminating on the errors of astrology." ^ Jourdain 
apparently did not realize the extent to which Abelard was 
simply repeating the writers of an earlier age. However, 
Abelard's presentation possesses a certain freshness and 
perhaps contains some original observations. 

In the passage in question ^ Abelard first discusses the 
nature of the stars. He says that it is no small question 
whether the planets are animat'^d, as the philosophers think, 
and have spirits who control their motion, or whether they 
hold their unvarying course merely by the will and order 
of Grod. Philosophers do not hesitate to declare them ra- 
tional, immortal, and impassive animals, and the Platonists 
call them not only gods but gods of gods, as being more 
excellent and having greater efficacy than the other stars. 
Moreover, Augustine says in his Handbook that he is un- 
certain whether to class the sun, moon, and stars with the 
angels. In his Retractions Augustine withdrew his earlier 
statement that this world is an animal, as Plato and other 
philosophers believe, not because he was sure it was false, 
but because he could not certainly prove it true either by 
reason or by the authority of divine scripture. Abelard does 
not venture to state an opinion of his own, but he at least 
has done little to refute a view of the nature of the heav- 
enly bodies which is quite favorable to, and usually was ac- 
companied by, astrology. Also he displays the wonted 
medieval respect for the opinions of the philosophers in 
general and the leaning of the twelfth century toward Plato 
in particular. 

Abelard next comes to the problem of the influence of Prediction 
the stars upon this earth and man. He grants that the and con- 
stars control heat and cold, drought and moisture; he ac- tingent 

. . . events, 

cepts the astrological division of the heavens into houses, 

^ Ibid., p. 119. 

* Cousin, Opera hactenus seorsim edita (1849-1859), I, 647-9. 


in certain ones of which each planet exerts its maximum of 
force ; and he believes that men skilled in knowledge of the 
stars can by astronomy predict much concerning the future 
of things having natural causes. Astronomical observations 
to his mind are very valuable not only in agriculture but in 
medicine, and he mentions that Moses himself is believed to 
have been very skilful in this science of the Egyptians. It 
is onl}^ to the attempt to predict contingentia as distinguished 
from naturalia that he objects. By contingentia he seems 
to mean events in which chance and divine providence or 
human choice and free will are involved. He gives as a 
proof that astrologers cannot predict such events the fact 
that, while they will foretell to you what other persons will 
do, they refuse to tell you openly which of two courses you 
yourself will pursue for fear that you may prove them wrong 
by wilfully doing the contrary to what they predict. Or, if 
an astrologer is able to predict such "contingent events," it 
must be because the devil has assisted him, and hence Abe- 
lard declares that he who promises anyone certitude concern- 
ing "contingent happenings" by means of "astronomy" is 
to be considered not so much asfronomicus as diaholicus. 
This is the nearest approach that I have been able to find 
in Abelard's writings to McCabe's assertion that he once 
called mathematics diabolical. But possibly I have over- 
looked some other passage where Abelard calls mathematica, 
in the sense of divination, diabolical.^ In any case Abelard 
rejects astrology only in part and accepts it with certain 
qualifications. His attitude is about the average one of his 
own time and of ages preceding and following. 
The Magi Abelard speaks of the Magi and the star of Bethlehem in 

g"Jr^ ^ a sermon for Epiphany.- This familiar theme, as we have 
seen, had often occupied the pens of the church fathers, so 
that Abelard has nothing new to say. On the contrary, he 
exhausts neither the authorities nor the subject in the pas- 
sages which he selects for repetition. His first t)oint is that 

* I have, however, searched for such in vain. 
*Migne, PL 178, 409-17. 


the Magi were fittingly the first of the Gentiles to become 
Christian converts because they before had been the masters 
of the greatest error, condemned by law with soothsayers to 
death, and indebted for their "nefarious and execrable doc- 
trine" to demons. In short, Abelard identifies them with 
magicians and takes that word in the worst sense. He is 
aware, however, that some identify them not with sorcerers 
(malefici) but with astronomers. He repeats the legend 
from the spurious homily of Chrysostom which we have 
already recounted ^ of how the magi had for generations 
watched for the star, warned by the writing of Seth which 
they possessed, and how the star finally appeared in the 
form of a little child with a cross above it and spake with 
them. He also states that they were called magici in their 
tongue because they glorified God in silence, without ap- 
pearing to note that this is contrary to his previous use of 
magi in an evil sense. Abelard believes that a new star 
announced the birth of Christ, the heavenly king, although 
he grants that comets, which we read of as announcing the 
deaths of earthly sovereigns, are not new stars. He also 
discusses without satisfactory results the question why this 
new star was seen only by the Magi. 

In a chapter "On the Suggestions of Demons" in his Demons 
Etkica sen Scito te ipsnm~ Abelard attempts to a certain j"^^^ . 
extent a natural explanation of the tempting of men by nature, 
demons and the arousing of lust and other evil passions 
within us. In this he perhaps makes his closest approach 
to the standpoint of natural science, although he is simply 
repeating an idea found already in Augustine and other 
church fathers. In plants and seeds and trees and stones, 
Abelard explains, there reside many forces adapted to arouse 
or calm our passions. The demons, owing to their subtle 
ingenuity and their long experience with the natures of 
things, are acquainted with all these occult properties and 
make use of them for their own evil ends. Thus they some- 
times, by divine permission, send men into trances or give 
* See above, chapter 20, page 474. ' Cap. 4, in Migne, PL 178, 647. 



Magic and 



Hugh of 
St. Victor. 

remedies to those making supplications to them, "and often 
when such cease to feel pain, they are believed to be cured." 
Abelard also mentions the marvels which the demons worked 
in Egypt in opposition to Moses by means of Pharaoh's 

Evidently then Abelard believes both in the existence of 
demons and of occult virtues in nature by which marvels 
may be worked. Magic avails itself both of demonic and 
natural forces. The demons are more thoroughly acquainted 
with the secrets of nature than are men. But this does not 
prove that scientific research is necessarily diabolical or 
that anyone devoting himself to investigation of nature is 
giving himself over to demons. The inevitable conclusion 
is rather that if men will practice the same long experimen- 
tation and will exercise the same "subtle ingenuity" as the 
demons have, there is nothing to prevent them, too, from 
becoming at last thoroughly acquainted with the natural 
powers of things. Also magic, since it avails itself of natu- 
ral forces, is akin to natural science, while natural science 
may hope some day to rival both the knowledge of the de- 
mons and the marvels of magic. Abelard does not go on 
to draw any of these conclusions, but other medieval writers 
were to do so before very long. 

Upon Hugh of St. Victor Vincent of Beauvais in the 
century following looked back as "illustrious in religion and 
knowledge of literature" and as "second to no one of his 
time in skill in the seven liberal arts." ^ Hugh was Abe- 
lard's younger contemporary, born almost twenty years later 
in Saxony in 1096 but dying a year before Abelard in 1141. 
His uncle, the bishop of Halberstadt, had preceded him at 
Paris as a student under William of Champeaux. When 
Hugh, as an Augustinian canon, reached the monastery of 
St. Victor at Paris, William had ceased to teach and be- 
come a bishop. Hugh was himself chosen head of the school 

^Speculum doctrinale (1472?), 
XVIII, 62, "Hugo Parisiensis 
sancti victoris canonicus religione 

et literarum scientia clarus et in 
VII liberalium artium peritia 
nulli sui temporis secundus fuit." 



in 1 133. He is famous as a mystic, but also composed ex- 
egetical and dogmatic works, and is noted for his classifica- 
tion of the sciences. Edward Myers well observes in this 
connection : "Historians of philosophy are now coming to 
see that it betrays a lack of psychological imagination to be 
unable to figure the subjective coexistence of Aristotelian 
dialectics with mysticism of the Victorine or Bernardine type 
— and even their compenetration. Speculative thought was 
not, and could not be, isolated from religious life lived with 
such intensity as it was in the middle ages, when that specu- 
lative thought was active everywhere, in every profession, 
in every degree of the social scale." ^ Later, in the case of 
St. Hildegard of Bingen, we shall meet an even more strik- 
ing combination of mysticism and natural science. 

Of Hugh's writings we shall be chiefly concerned with Character 
the Didascalicon, or Eruditio didascalica,- a brief work Didalcali- 
whose six books occupy some seventy columns in Migne's <^on. 

"■ CE ^ "Hugh of St. Victor," 
where is also given a good bib- 
liography of works on Hugh's 
theology, philosophy, psychology, 
and pedagogy. 

* I have employed the text in 
Migne PL vol. 176, cols. 739-812. 
It should be noted, however, that 
B. Haureau, Les GLuvres de 
Hugues de Saint-Victor, Essai 
critique, nouvelle edition, Paris, 
1886, demonstrated that there 
should be only six books of the 
Didascalicon instead of seven as 
in this edition and that of 1648. 
This will not affect our investi- 
gation, as we shall make no use 
of the seventh book, but we shall 
have later to discuss whether a 
passage on magic belongs at the 
close of the sixth book or not. 
There appears to be a somewhat 
general impression that the edi- 
tion of 1648 is the earliest edition 
of Hugh's works, but the British 
Museum has an undated incunabu- 
lum of the "Didascolon" num- 
bered IB. 850, fol. 254. 

Vincent of Beauvais in the thir- 
teenth century speaks of the 
"Didascolon" as in five books 

{Speculum doctrinale, XVIII, 62) 
but is probably mistaken. The 
MSS seem uniformly to divide the 
work into a prologue and six 
books, as in the following at Ox- 
ford : 

New College 144, nth {sic) 
century, folio bene exaratus et 
servatus, fols. 105-43, "Incipit pro- 
logus in Didascalicon." 

Jesus College 35, 12th century, 
fol. 26- 

St. John's 98, 14th century, fol. 

Corpus Christi 223, 15th cen- 
tury, fol. 72,- 

I have not noted what MSS of 
the Didascalicon there are in the 
British Museum. The following 
MSS elsewhere may be worth 
listing as of early date : 

Grenoble 246, 12th century, fols. 

BN 13334, .i2th century, fol. 
52-, de arte didascalica, is prob» 
ably our treatise, although the 
catalogue names no author. 

BN 15256, 13th century, fol. 128-. 

Still other MSS will be men- 
tioned in a subsequent note. 


Patrologia. It is especially devoted, as its first chapter 
clearly states, to instructing the student what to read and 
how to read. On the whole, especially for its early twelfth 
century date, it is a clear, systematic, and sensible treatise, 
which shows that medieval men were wider readers than 
has often been supposed and that they had some sound ideas 
on how to study. In order to have a basis for systematic 
study, Hugh describes and classifies the various arts and 
sciences, mechanical and liberal, theoretical and practical. 
He is possibly influenced in his definitions and derivations 
by Isidore's Etymologies, although he seldom if ever ac- 
knowledges the debt, whereas he cites Boethius a number of 
times, but at least his classification and arrangement of ma- 
terial are quite different from Isidore's. In this description 
and classification, and indeed throughout the treatise, Hugh 
seems to display no little originality of thought and arrange- 
ment — once he tells us of his own methods of study ^ — al- 
though his facts and details are mostly familiar ones from 
ancient authors and although he of course embodies generally 
accepted notions such as the triinum and quadrwiitm. 
Meaning To the four subjects of the quadriviiim he adds physica 

oiphysica. qj- physiologia,'^ which he says "considers and investigates 
the causes of things in their effects and their effects in their 
causes." He quotes from Vergil's Georgics, (II, 479-) 

"Whence earthquakes come, what force disturbs the deep, 
Virtues of herbs, the minds and wraths of brutes, 
All kinds of fruits, of reptiles, too, and gems." 

Thus Physica is more inclusive than the modern science of 
Physics, while Hugh evidently does not employ it in the 
specific sense of the art of medicine, of which the word 
physica was sometimes used in the medieval period. Hugh 
goes on to say that Physica is sometimes still more broadly 
interpreted to designate natural philosophy in contrast to 
logical and ethical philosophy. His quotation from the 
Georgics also causes one to reflect on the prominent part 
^Didasc. VI, 3. * Ibid., II, 17. 




played in natural science from before Vergil to after Hugh 
by the semi-human characteristics ascribed to animals and 
the occult virtues ascribed to herbs and gems. 

Hugh's attitude to history is interesting to note in pass- 
ing. In his classification of the sciences he does not assign 
it a distinct place as he does to economics and politics, but 
he shows his inchoate sense of the importance of the history 
of science and of thought by attempting a list of the found- 
ers of the various arts and sciences.^ In this connection he 
adopts the theory of the origin of the Etruscans at present 
in favor with scholars, that they came from Lydia. He 
regards the study of Biblical or sacred history as the first 
essential for a theologian, who should learn history from 
beginning to end before he proceeds to doctrine and alle- 
gory.^ Four essential points to note in studying history in 
Hugh's opinion are the person, the event, the time, and the 

In discussing the qiiadrimiim Hugh explains the signifi- 
cance of the terms, mathematica, astronomia, and astrologia. 
Mathematica, in which the first letter "t" has the aspirate, 
denotes sound doctrine and the science of abstract quantity, 
and embraces within itself the four subjects of the qiiad- 
rivimn. In other words it denotes mathematics in our sense 
of the word. But niatcsis, spelled without the aspirate, sig- 
nifies that superstitious vanity which places the fate of man 
under the constellations. ^ Hugh thus allows for the com- 

^Didasc. Ill, 2. 

*Ibid., VI, 3. 

*A similar distinction will be 
found in the Glosses on the Tim- 
aeus of William of Conches 
(Cousin, Ouvrages inedits d' Abe- 
lard, 1836, p. 649), one of Hugh's 
contemporaries of whom we shall 
presently treat. A little later in 
the twelfth century John of Salis- 
bury (Polycraticiis, II, 18) makes 
the distinction between the two 
mateses or mathematics lie rather 
in the quantity of the penultimate 
vowel "e". In the thirteenth cen- 
tury Albertus Magnus (Cotn- 
mentary on Matthew, II, i) also 

distinguished between the two va- 
rieties of mathematics according 
to the length of the "e" in "ma- 
thesis" ; but he did not regard 
the second variety as necessarily 
superstitious, but as divination 
from the stars which might be 
either good or bad, like Hugh's 

Roger Bacon mentioned both 
methods of distinction between the 
true and false mathematics ; but 
statements in his different works 
are not in agreement as to which 
case it is in which the "e" is long 
or short. In the Opus Mains 
(Bridges, I, 239 and note) and 

The study 
of his- 

The two 

matics : 
and super- 



lunar and 

mon use since the time of the Roman Empire of the word 
mathematiciis for an astrologer, and the frequent use of 
mathematica in the sense of the Greek word mantike or div- 
ination. He correctly states the Greek derivation of as- 
trology and astronomy and employs those words in just 
about their modern sense. Astrology considers the stars 
in order to determine the nativity, death, and certain other 
events. For Hugh, however, it is not wholly a superstition, 
but "partly natural science, partly a superstition," since he 
believes that the condition of the human body as well as of 
other bodies depends upon the constellations, and that sick- 
ness and health as well as storms or fair weather, fertility 
and sterility, can be predicted from the stars, but that it is 
superstitious to assert their control over contingent events 
and acts of free will, — the same distinction as that made by 

In an earlier discussion of the universe above and be- 
neath the moon ^ Hugh had further emphasized the superi- 
ority of the heavenly bodies and their power over earthly 
life and nature. He distinguished three kinds of beings: 
God the Creator {solus naturae genitor et artifex) who 
alone is without beginning or end and truly eternal, the 
bodies of the superlunar world which have a beginning but 
no end and are called perpetual and divine, and sublunar and 
terrestrial things which have both a beginning and an end. 
The mathematicians call the superlunar world nature, and 
the sublunar world the work of nature, because all life and 
growth in it comes "through invisible channels from the 

Opus Tertium (caps. 9 and 65) 
he states that the vowel is short 
in the true mathematics and long 
in the superstitious variety ; but 
in other writings he took the op- 
posite view and declared that "all 
the Latins" were wrong in think- 
ing otherwise (see Bridges, I, 
229 note; Steele (1920) viii). 

In a twelfth century MS at 
Munich (CLM 19488, pp. 17-23) 
a treatise or perhaps an excerpt 
from some longer work, entitled 

De differentiis vocahulorum, opens 
with the words, "Scire facit 
mathesis et divinare mathesis." 
Roger Bacon says (Steele, 1920, 
p. 3), "Set glomerelli nescientes 
Grecum ... ex magna sua igno- 
rancia vulgaverunt hos versus 
falsos : 
Scire facit matesis, set divinare 

mathesis ; 
Philosophi matesim, magici dixere 
^ Didascalicon, I, 7. 

sion of 


superior bodies." They also call the upper world time, be- 
cause of the movements of the heavenly bodies in it deter- 
mining time, and the lower world temporal, because it is 
moved according to the superior motions. They further call 
the superlunar world Elysium on account of its perpetual 
light and peace, while they call the other Infernwm because 
of its confusion and constant fluctuation. Hugh adds that 
he has touched upon these points in order to show man that, 
in so far as he shares in this world of change, he is like it, 
subject to necessity, while in so far as he is immortal he is 
related to the Godhead. 

Hugh's brief, but clear and pithy, account of magic oc- Discus 
curs in the closing chapter of his sixth and last book,^ and 
seems to be rather in the nature of an addendum. It is, 
indeed, missing from the Didascalicon in some of the earli- 
est manuscripts ^ and is found separately in the same col- 
lection of manuscripts, so that possibly it is not by Hugh. 
At any rate, magic is treated by itself apart from his previ- 
ous description and classification of the arts and sciences 
and listing of their founders. The definition of magic makes 
it clear why it is thus segregated : "Magic is not included 
in philosophy, but is a distinct subject, false in its profes- 
sions, mistress of all iniquity and malice, deceiving concern- 

^ Didasc. VI, 15 (Migne PL 176, The passage on magic is also 

810-12). cited as Hugh's by Robert Kil- 

'^BN nouv. acq. 1429, 12th cen- wardby, archbishop of Canter- 

tury, fols. iv-23, and CLM 2572, bury 1272-1279, in his work on the 

written between 1182 and 1199; division of the sciences, cap. 67: 

both end with the thirteenth chap- MSS are BalHol 3 ; Merton 261. 
ter of Book VI, or at col. 809 in In Cortona 35, isth century, 

Migne. St. John's 98, 14th cen- fol. 203, the Didascalicon in six 

tury, fol. 145V, also ends at this books is first followed by a brief 

point. Jesus College 35, 12th cen- passage, Divisio philosophie con- 

tury, is mutilated at the close. tinentium, which is perhaps simply 

Other early MSS, however, in- the fourteenth chapter of the sixth 
elude the passage on magic in the book as printed in Migne, and then 
Didascalicon, and end the sixth at fol. 224 by the passage concern- 
book with the closing words of ing magic and its subdivisions, 
the account of magic, "Hy- The account of magic also oc- 
dromancy first came from the curs in MSS which do not con- 
Persians" : see Vitry-le-Frangois tain the Didascalicon, for instance, 
19, I2th century, fols. 1-46; Maza- Vatic. Palat. Lat. 841, 13th cen- 
rine 717, 13th century, $9, closing tury, fol. I39r, "Magice artis 
at fol. 97v. quinque sunt species. . . ." 


ing the truth and truly doing harm ; it seduces souls from 
divine religion, promotes the worship of demons, engenders 
corruption of morals, and impels the minds of its followers 
to every crime and abomination." Hugh had prefaced this 
definition by much the usual meager history of the origin of 
magic to be found in Isidore and other writers, but his defin- 
ition proper seems rather original in its form and in a way 
admirable in its attitude. The ancient classical feeling that 
magic was evil and the Christian prejudice against it as the 
work of demons still play a large part in his summary of 
the subject, but to these two points that magic is hostile to 
Christianity or irreligious, and that it is improper, immoral, 
and criminal, he adds the other two points that it is not a 
part of philosophy — in other words, it is unscientific, and 
that it is more or less untrue and unreal. Or these four 
points may be reduced to two : since law, religion, and 
learning unite in condemning magic, it is unsocial in 
every respect; and it is more or less untrue, unreal, and 
Five sub- Hugh's list of various forbidden and occult arts which 

ormag^c ^^^ sub-divisions of magic is somewhat similar to that of 
Isidore, but he classifies and groups them logically under 
five main heads in a way which appears to be partly his own, 
and which was followed by other subsequent writers, such as 
Roger Bacon. His first three main heads all deal with arts 
of divination. Mantike divides as usual into necromancy, 
geomancy, hydromancy, aerimancy, and pyromancy. Under 
mafhematica are listed aruspicina, or the observation of 
hours (liorae) or of entrails (hara) ; augury, or observation 
of birds; and horoscopia, or the observation of nativities. 
The third main head, sortilegia, deals with divination by 
lots. The fourth main head, malcficia, with which magic 
has already been twice identified in the chapter, is now de- 
scribed by Hugh as "the performance of evil deeds by in- 
cantations to demons, or by ligatures or any other accursed 
kind of remedies with the co-operation and instruction of 


demons." ^ Fifth and last come praestigia, in which "by 
phantastic ilhisions concerning the transformation of ob- 
jects the human senses are deceived by demoniacal art." ^ 

Among- the doubtful and spurious works ascribed to DebestUs 
. . . . . et alns 

Hugh is a bestiary in four books,^ in which various birds rebus. 

and beasts are described, and spiritual and moral applications 
are made from them. At least this is the character of the 
first part of the treatise; towards the close it becomes sim- 
ply a glossary of all sorts of natural objects. Physiologns 
is often cited for the natural properties of birds and beasts, 
but as we have already dealt with the problem of the Physi- 
ologiis in an earlier chapter, and as we shall sufficiently deal 
with the properties and natures ascribed to animals in the 
middle ages in describing the treatment of them by various 
encyclopedists like Thomas of Cantimpre, Bartholomew of 
England, and Albertus Magnus, we are at present mainly 
interested in some other features of the treatise before us. 
It is often illustrated with illuminations of birds and ani- 
mals in the manuscripts and was originally intended to be 
so, as the prologue on the hawk and dove by its monkish 
author to a noble convert, Raynerus, makes evident. "Wish- 
ing to satisfy the petitions of your desire, I decided to paint 
the dove whose 'wings are covered with silver, and her 
feathers with yellow gold,' and to edify minds by painting, 
in order that what the simple mind can scarcely grasp by 
the eye of the intellect, it might at least discern with the 
carnal eye, and vision perceive what hearing could scarcely 
comprehend. However, I wished not only to depict the dove 
graphically but to describe it in words and to explain the 
painting by writing, so that he whom the simplicity of the 
picture did not please might at least be pleased by the morality 
of Scripture." Indeed, the work is often entitled The Gilded 

* "Malefici sunt qui per incan- phantasticas illusiones circa rerum 
tationes daemonicas sive ligaturas immutationem sensibus humanis 
vel alia quaecunque exsecrabilia arte daemoniaca illuditur." 
remediorum genera cooperatione ' Migne, PL 177, 13-164, "Hugo 
daemonum atque instructu ne- Raynero suo salutem. Desiderii 
fanda perficiunt." tui petitionibus, charissime, satis- 

* "Praestigia sunt quando per facere cupiens . . ." 


Dove in the manuscripts. The treatise is manifestly of a re- 
ligious and popular rather than scientific character. One 
interesting passage states that a monk should not practice 
medicine because "a doctor sometimes sees things which are 
not decent to see," and "touches what it is improper for the 
religious to touch." Furthermore, a physician "speaks of 
uncertain matters by means of experiments, but experience is 
deceitful and so often errs. But this is not fitting for a monk 
that he should speak aught but the truth." ^ It is rather sur- 
prising to find free will attributed to the wild beasts, who are 
said to wander about at their will.- This passage, however, 
is simply copied from Isidore.^ 

* I, 45. "De incertis per experi- bertate et desiderio suo ferantur. 
menta loquitur, sed experimentum Sunt enim liberae eorum volun- 
est fallax, ideo saepe fallitur. Sed tates et hue atque illuc vagantur 
hoc religioso non expedit ut alia et quo animus duxerit eo ferun- 
quam vera loquatur." tur." 

* II, prologus. "Ferae appellan- * Etyntologiarum, XII, ii, 2. 
tur eo quod naturali utantur li- 




The De bestiis et aliis rebus or Columha deargentata 
appears with other opuscula of Hugh of St. Victor or 
Hugh of Folieto in 

Vendome 156, 12th century, fol. iv — , "Libellus cuiusdam ad 
fratrem Rainerum corde benignum qui Columba deargen- 
tata inscribitur. Desiderii tui, karissime, petitionibus satis- 
facere. . . ." 

Dijon anciens fonds 225, 12th century, fols. 92V-98, "Prologus 
Hugonis prioris in librum de tribus columbis. Desiderii tui, 
karissime, petitionibus satisfacere. . . ." 

Cambridge University has several copies, most of which 
seem to differ from the printed edition and from one an- 

CUL 1574, 15th century, Liber de bestiis et aliis rebus; the ar- 
rangement is said to be very different from that in Migne. 

CUL 1823, I2th century, "Liber bestiarum"; similar in text to the 
foregoing, but with a different order of chapters, "and there are 
both large omissions and insertions." The numerous figures of 
animals in outline "are remarkable for their finish and vigor." 

CUL 2040, late 13th century, fols. 50-93, "De natura animantium"; 
said to be "substantially the same as that of Hugo de S. Victore ; 
the arrangement, however, is very irregular." 

CU Sidney Sussex 100, 13th century, James's description (pp. 
1^5-7) shows it to be our treatise; for its fine miniatures see 
James (1895) pp. 117-20. 

A few other MSS (doubtless the list can be greatly aug- 
mented) are: 

Vitry-le-Franqois 23, 13th century, fols. 1-23, illuminated, "Incipit 
libellus cuiusdam ad Rainerum conversum cognomine Corde 



Benignum. Incipit de tribus columbis. Si dormiatis inter medios 
cleros . . ."; it closes without Explicit, ". . . per bonam opera- 
tionem conformem reddit." Then follows at fol. 23V, "Incipit 
tractatus Hugonis de Folieto prioris canonicorum Sancti Lau- 
rentii in pago Ambianensi de claustro anime. . . ." 

Vitry-le-Franqois 63, 13th century, fol. i-, "De tribus columbis ad 
Raynerum conversum cognomento Corde Benignum seu de natura 
avium. . . ."; followed at fol. 7-, by portions of De claustro 

BN 12321, 13th century, fol. 215V (where it follows works by St. 
Bernard), De naturis avium ad Rainerum conversum cognomine 
Corde benignum. 

Bourges 121, 13th century, fol. 128-, "Libellus cuiusdam (Hugonis 
de Folieto) ad fratrem Rainerum corde benignum qui Columba 
deargentata inscribitur." 

CLM 15407, 14th century, fol. 46, Libellus qui "Columba deargen- 
tata" inscribitur, etc. 

CLM 18368, anno 1385, fol. 121, Hugonis de S. Victore Columba 
deargentata; fol. 124, Eiusdem avicularius. 



Place in medieval learning — Some dates in his career — Mathematical 
treatises — Adelard and alchemy — Importance of the Natural Questions 
— Occasion of writing — Arabic versus Gallic learning — "Modern dis- 
coveries" — Medieval work wrongly credited to Greek and Arab — Illus- 
trated from the history of alchemy — Science and religion — Reason 
versus authority — Need of the telescope and microscope already felt — 
Some quaint speculative science — Warfare, science, and religion — 
Specimens of medieval scientific curiosity — Theory of sound — Theory 
of vision — Deductive reasoning from hot and cold, moist and dry — 
Refinement of the four elements hypothesis — Animal intelligence 
doubted — The earth's shape and center of gravity — Indestructibility of 
matter — Also stated by Hugh of St. Victor — Roger Bacon's continuity 
of universal nature — Previously stated by Adelard — Experiment and 
magic — Adelard and Hero of Alexandria — Attitude to the stars : De 
eodem et diverso — Attitude to the stars : Questiones naturalcs — As- 
trology in an anonymous work, perhaps by Athelardus — Authorities 
concerning spirits — Adelard's future influence — Appendix I. The prob- 
lem of dating the De eodem et diverso and Questiones naturales and 
of their relations to each other — Difficulty of the problem — Before 
what queen did Adelard play the cithara? — Circumstances under which 
the De eodem et diverso was written — Different situation depicted in 
the Natural Questions — Some apparent indications that the De eodem 
et diverso was written after the Natural Questions — How long had 
Henry I been reigning? 

"Quare, si quid amplius a me audire desideras, rationem 
refer et recipe." 

— Questiones naturales, cap. 6. 

While the Breton, Abelard, and the Saxon, Hugh of St. Place in 

Victor, were reviewing patristic Hterature from somewhat learning. 

new angles and were laying the foundations of scholastic 

method, an Englishman, Adelard of Bath,^ was primarily 

* For the De eodem et diverso herausgegeben und historisch-krit- 

I have used the text printed for isch untersucht, Miinster, 1903, in 

the first time by H. Willner, Des Beitrdge, IV, i. 

Adelard von Bath Traktat De For the Questiones naturales I 

eodem et diverso, sum. ersten Male have used the editio princeps of 



interested in exploring the fields of mathematical and natural 
science. As Hugh came from Saxony to Paris and Abelard 
went forth from his native Brittany through the towns of 
France in quest of Christian teachers, so Adelard, leaving 
not only his home in England but the schools of Gaul where 
he had been teaching, made a much more extensive intellec- 
tual pilgrimage even to lands Mohammedan. "It is worth 
while," he declares in one of his works, "to visit learned 
men of different nations, and to remember whatever you 
find is most excellent in each case. For what the schools 
of Gaul do not know, those beyond the Alps reveal; what 
you do not learn among the Latins, well-informed Greece 
will teach you.^ Adelard seems to have devoted himself 
especially to Arabian learning and to have made a number 
of translations from the Arabic, continuing at the beginning 
of the twelfth century that transfer of Graeco-Arabic sci- 
ence which we have associated with the name of Gerbert 
in the tenth century and which Constantinus Africanus car- 
ried on in the eleventh century. Adelard himself hints that 
some of his new ideas are not derived from his Arabian 
masters but are his own, and Haskins has well character- 
ized him as a pioneer in the study of natural science. 
Some Adelard has been described as "a dim and shadowy 

his career, figure in the history of European learning," ^ and the dates 

Louvain, 1480 (?), and what is served in MSS at Oxford and 

supposed to be the original MS at Munich. 

Eton College, 161, (Bl. 6. 16). I For Adelard's translation of the 

have also examined BN 2389, Liber Ezich, or astronomical tables 

I2th century, fols. 65r-8iv, Ques- of Al-Khowarizmi (as revised by 

tiones naturales from cap. 12 on; Maslama at Cordova), I have used 

fols. 81V-9OV, De eodem et diverso H. Suter, Die astronomischen 

(sole extant text) ; and BN 6415, Tafeln des Muhammed ibn Musa 

14th century, w^here Adelard's Na- Al-Khwarizmi, Copenhagen, 1914. 

tural Questions are found to- For further bibliography of 

gether with William of Conches' Adelard's writings see the articles 

Dragmaticon philosophiac and on Adelard of Bath, by Professor 

Bernard Silvester's Megacosmus C. H. Haskins in EHR 26(1911) 

et microcosmus, of which we treat pp. 491-8, and 28 (1913) 515-6. 

in succeeding chapters. Professor These articles will henceforth be 

H. Gollancz has recently trans- cited as Haskins (i9'i) and 

lated the Latin text into English Haskins (1913). 

for the first time in his Dodi Ve- ' De codem et diverso, p. 32. 

Nechdi, the work of Berachya 'Haskins (1911) P- 49^. who 

based upon Adelard's and pre- has, however, himself done much 


of his birth and death are unknown. We possess, however, 
a number of his works and some may be either approxi- 
mately or exactly dated. In the preface to his translation of 
the astronomical tables of Al-Khowarizmi he seems to give 
the year as 1126} The Pipe Roll for 1 130 informs us that 
Adelard received four shillings and six pence at that time 
from the sheriff of Wiltshire. This suggests that he was in 
the employ of the king's court,^ and his brief treatise on the 
astrolabe seems to be dedicated to Prince Henry Planta- 
genet,^ later Henry H, and to have been written between 1 142 
and 1 146. It was probably one of his last works and in it he 
mentions specifically three earlier works. ^ Two other writ- 
ings, which are the best known and apparently the most 
original of his works, namely the Questiones Natiirales and 
De eodem et diverso, may be dated approximately from the 
fact that they are dedicated respectively to Richard, Bishop 
of Bayeux from 1107 to 1133, and to William, Bishop of 
Syracuse, who died in 11 15 or 11 16. Both works are ad- 
dressed to Adelard's nephew, who is presumably the same 
person in both cases, one in the form of a letter, the 
other of a conversation, and both justify Adelard's studies 
in foreign lands. In an appendix to this chapter the ques- 
tion when these two treatises were written and their rela- 
tions to each other will be discussed more fully. 

The subjects of a majority of Adelard's known works Mathe- 
and translations are mathematical or astronomical. The "gadses 
most elementary is a treatise on the abacus, Regnle ahaci,^ 
in which his chief authorities are Boethius and Gerbert and 
he seems as yet unacquainted with Arabic mathematics.® 

to clear up this obscurity. I large- cum sis regis nepos" ; Haskins 

ly follow his account in the en- (1913) PP- 515-6. 

suing biographical and biblio- * Namely, the translation of 

graphical details. Euclid, De eodem et diverso, and 

^ But the passage giving this date Liber Ezich. 

has been found in but one MS ; ° Ed. Boncompagni, Bullettino di 

Suter (1914), pp. 5, 37. BibliograHa e di Storia della 

* R. L. Poole, The Exchequer Sciense matematiche, XIV, 1-134. 

in the Tzvelfth Century, London, ' Unless indirectly through Ger- 

1912, p. 56. bert 

' CU McLean i6s, "Heynrice 






But most of the mathematical treatises extant under Ade- 
lard's name are from the Arabic, such as his translation of 
Euclid's Elements; ^ of the astronomical tables of Al-Kho- 
warizmi — who flourished under the patronage of the caliph 
Al-Mamum (813-833) — "apparently as revised by Mas- 
lama at Cordova," under the title Liber Ezich; and, if by 
a "Master A" Adelard is meant, of a treatise of the first 
half of the twelfth century on the four arts of the quadriv- 
ium and especially on astronomy, which is apparently also 
a work of Al-Khowarizmi,- Some of the introductory 
books on the quadrivium have been printed,^ but "the as- 
tronomical treatise has not yet been specially studied." * 
One therefore cannot say how far it may indulge in astrol- 
ogy, but we are told that Adelard translated from the 
Arabic another "astrological treatise, evidently of Abu 
Ma'ashar Dja'afar," ^ or Albumasar. We have already 
mentioned in another chapter the ascription to Adelard of 
one Latin translation of the superstitious work of Thebit 
ben Corat on astrological images, and in the present chapter 
the treatise on the astrolabe for Henry Plantagenet. 

Adelard was interested in alchemy as well as astrology 
and magic, if the attribution to him in a thirteenth century 
manuscript ® of the twelfth century version of the Mappe 
clazncula is correct. We have seen that the original version 

* The numerous MSS vary so 
in text and arrangement that it is 
not clear whether Adelard's work 
in its original form "was an 
abridgement, a close translation, 
or a commentary," (Haskins 
(191 1) 494-5)- 

Professor David Eugene Smith 
states in his forthcoming edition 
of Roger Bacon's Communia 
Maihematicae, which he has very 
kindly permitted me to see in 
manuscript, that Roger refers sev- 
eral times to Adelard's Editio 
specialts super Elcmcnta Euclidis 
— "a work now entirely unknown." 

^ Liber ysagogarum Alchorismi 
in artem astronomicam a magis- 
tro A. compositus: Haskins 

(1911) p. 493 for MSS. 

'Ed. Curtze, in Abhandl. s. 
Gcsch, d. Math., VIII, 1-27. 

* Haskins (1911) p. 494. 

^ Ibid., 495, Ysagoga minor 
lapharis niathematici in astrono- 
viiam per Adelardum bathonien- 
scni ex arabico sumpta. It is per- 
haps worth noting the similarity 
of the Incipit, "Quicumque phi- 
losophic scienciam altiorem studio 
constanti inquirens. . . ." (Digby 
68, 14th century, fols. 116-24), to 
the three "Quicumque" Incipits 
mentioned in our chapter on Ger- 
bert (see above, Qiapter 30, vol. I, 
page 707.) 

"Royal IS-C-IV. 




of that work was much older than Adelard's time, but he 

perhaps made additions to it, or translated a fuller Arabic 

version. The occurrence of some Arabic and English words 

in certain chapters of the later copies are perhaps signs of 

his contributions. Berthelot, however, thought that few of 

the new items in the twelfth century version originated with 

Adelard and that many of the additions were taken by him, 

or by whoever was responsible for the later version, from 

Greek rather than Arabic sources.^ 

Our attention will be devoted chiefly to the two treatises Impor- 

by Adelard which we have already mentioned as the most the Nafit- 

original of his works. Of these the Natural Questions are ralQues- 

. . . tions. 

evidently much more important than the De eodern et di- 

rerso, which is largely taken up with a justification, in the 
style of allegorical personification made so popular by Mar- 
tianus Capella and Boethius, and with much use of Plato's 
Timaeus, of the seven liberal arts against the five worldly 
interests of wealth, power, ambition, dignities, and pleasure. 
The Natural Questions, although put into a dramatic dia- 
logue form somewhat reminiscent of Plato, deal without 
much persiflage with a number of concrete problems of 
natural science to which definite answers are attempted. 

Adelard opens the Natural Questions with brief allusion Occasion 
to the pleasant reunion with the friends who greeted him ° ^^^ ^"^' 
upon his return to England in the reign of Henry I after 
long absence from his native land for the sake of study. 
After the usual inquiries had been made concerning one 
another's health and that of their friends, Adelard asked 
about "the morals of our nation," only to learn that "princes 
were violent, prelates wine-bibbers, judges mercenary, pa- 
trons inconstant, the common men flatterers, promise-makers 
false, friends envious, and everyone in general ambitious." 
Adelard declared that he had no intention of conforming to 
this wretched state of affairs, and when asked what he did 

'Berthelot (1906) 172-77. "Ade- 
lard de Bath et le Mappe Clavi- 
cula." as well as the citations 

from other writings of Berthelot 
by Haskins (1911) 495-6. 




intend to do, since he would not practice and could not pre- 
vent such "moral depravity," replied that he intended to ig- 
nore it, "for oblivion is the only remedy for insurmountable 
ills." Accordingly that subject was dropped, and presently 
his nephew suggested and the others joined in urging that 
he disclose to them "something new from my Arabian 
studies." ^ From the sordid practical world back to the 
pure light and ideals of science and philosophy! Such has 
been the frequent refrain of our authors from Vitruvius 
and Galen, from Firmicus and Boethius on. It is further 
enlarged upon by Adelard in the De cod em ct diuerso; it has 
not quite lost its force even today ; and parallels to Adelard's 
twelfth century lament on England's going to the dogs may 
be found in after-the-war letters to The London Times of 

The result of the request preferred by Adelard's friends 
is the present treatise in the form of a dialogue with his 
nephew, who proposes by a succession of questions to force 
his uncle to justify his preference for "the opinions of the 
Saracens" over those of the Christian "schools of Gaul" 
where the nephew has pursued his studies. The nephew 
is described as "interested rather than expert in natural 
science" ^ in the Natural Questions, while a passage in the 
De eodem et diverso implies that his training in Gaul had 
been largely of the usual rhetorical and dialectical charac- 
ter, since Adelard says to him, "Do you keep watch wdiether 
I speak aright, observing that modest silence which is your 
custom amidst the w^ordy war of sophisms and the affected 
locutions of rhetoric." ^ In the Natural Questions the 
nephew% as befits his now maturer years, has more to say, 
raising some objections and stating some theories as well as 
propounding his questions, but Adelard's answers consti- 
tute the bulk of the book. Beginning w-ith earth and plants, 

* "Aliquid arabicorum studiorum 
novum me proponere exhortatus." 

' "Nepos quidam meus in rerum 
causis magis implicans quam 

* Dc eodcm et diverso. p. 2, "Tu 

utrum recte texam animadverte. 
et ea qua soles vel in sophismatum 
vcrboso agmine vel in rhetoricae 
afFectuosa elocutione modesta taci- 
turnitate utere." 


the questions range in an ascending scale through the lower 
animals to human physiology and psychology and then to 
the grander cosmic phenomena of sea, air, and sky. 

In agreeing to follow this method of question and answer "Modem 
Adelard explains at the start that on account of the preju- ^^^^p^^^r- 
dice of the present generation against any modern ^ discov- 
eries he will attribute even his own ideas to someone else, 
and that, if what he says proves displeasing to less advanced 
students because unfamiliar, the blame for this should be 
attached to the Arabs and not to himself. "For I am aware 
what misfortunes pursue the professors of truth among the 
common crowd. Therefore it is the cause of the Arabs that 
1 plead, not my own." ^ This is a very interesting passage 
in more ways than one. Adelard appears as an exponent of 
the new scientific school, stimulated by contact with Arabian 
culture. He is confident that he has valuable new truth, but 
is less confident as to the reception which it will receive. 
The hostility, however, in the Latin learned world is not, as 
one might expect, to Mohammedan learning. The process 
of taking over Arabic learning has apparently already be- 
gun — as indeed we have seen from our previous chapters — 

^ Adelard uses the word mo- Itaque — ne omnino non audiar — 

dernus a number of times, and omnes meas sententias dans, 

usually of his own age, although 'Quidam invenit, non ego.' Sed 

in one passage of the De codcin haec hactenus. 

et diver so (p. 7, line 3) he speaks . . . hoc tamen vitato incom- 

of the Latin writers, Cicero and modo ne quis me ignota proferen- 

Boethius, as modernos in distinc- tern ex mea id sententia facere, 

tion from Greek philosophers of varum arabicorum studiorum sen- 

whom he has previously been sa putet proponere. Nolo enim 

speaking. Other uses of the word si quae dixero minus provectis 

in De eodem et divcrso to apply displiciant, ego etiam eis dis- 

to his own age are : p. 3, line 3 ; plicere. Novi enim quis casus veri 

p. ic), line 24; p. 22, line 33. professores apud vulgus sequatur. 

Cassiodorus is said to be the Quare causam arabicorum non 

first extant author to use mo- meam agam." 

dsrnus. In the catalogue of books at 

'Quest, nat., Proemium. "Habet Christ Church, Canterbury, which 

enim haec generatio ingenitum was drawn up while Henry of 

vitium ut nihil quod a modernis Eastry was prior (1284-1331), our 

reperiatur putent esse recipien- treatise is listed as "Athelardus 

dum, unde fit ut si quando inven- de naturalibus questionibus secun- 

tum proprium publicare voluerim, dum Arabicos" : James (1903) p. 

personae id alienae imponens in- 126. 
quam, 'Quidam dixit, non ego,' 


and Adelard's Christian friends are ready enough to hear 
what he has learned in Mohammedan lands and schools, al- 
though of course they may not accept it after they have heard 
it. But he fears that he "would not get a hearing at all," 
if he should put forward new views as his own. Indeed, 
he himself shows a similar prejudice against other novel- 
ties than his own in a passage in the De eodem, where he 
speaks impatiently and contemptuously of "those who harass 
our ears with daily novelties" and of "the new Platos and 
Aristotles to whom each day gives birth, who with unblush- 
ing front proclaim alike things which they know and of 
which they know nothing, and whose supreme trust is in 
extreme verbosity." ^ Adelard of course regarded his own 
new ideas as of more solid worth than these, but the fact 
remains that he was not after all the only one who was in- 
terested in promulgating novelties. Yet his justification for 
writing the De eodem is the silence of "the science of the 
moderns" compared with the fluency of the ancients, of 
whose famous writings he has read "not all, but the greater 
part." ^ It is not necessary, of course, to regard this passage 
and the preceding as inconsistent, but it is well to read the 
one in the light of the other. 
Medieval But let US return to the passage from the Natural Ques- 

wronglv tions and Adelard's insinuation — slightly satirical no doubt, 
credited but also in part serious — that he has fathered new scientific 
and Arab, nptions of his own upon the Arabs. There is reason to think 
that he was not the only one to do this. Not only were 
superstitious and comparatively worthless treatises which 
were composed in the medieval period attributed to Aris- 
totle and other famous authors, but this was also the case 
with works of real value. Also the number is suspiciously 

* P. 7, "Cui tandem eorum ere- fiducia." 

dendum est qui cotidianis novi- ^ De eodem, p. i, "Dum pris- 

tatibus aures vexant? Et assidue corum virorum scripta famosa 

quidem etiam nunc cotidie Pla- non omnia sed pleraque perle- 

tones, Aristoteles novi nobis nas- gerim eorumque facultatem cum 

cuntur, qui aeque ea quae nesciant modernorum scientia compara- 

ut et ea quae sciant sine frontis verim, et illos facundos judico et 

jectura promittunt ; estque in hos taciturnos appello." 
summa verbositate summa eorum 


large of works of which the lost originals were supposedly 
by Greek or Arabian authors but which are extant only in 
later Latin "translations." 

This point may be specifically illustrated for the moment Illustrated 
from the researches of Berthelot among alchemistic manu- h^st'orvof 
scripts, which have demonstrated that Latin alchemy of the alchemy, 
thirteenth century was less superstitious and more scientific 
than in previous periods, whether among the ancient Greeks 
or more recent Arabs. He found but one treatise in Arabic 
which contained precise and minute details about chemical 
substances and operations. As a rule the Arabian alche- 
mists wrote "theoretical works full of allegories and declama- 
tion." For a long time several works, important in the his- 
tory of chemistry as well as of alchemy, were regarded as 
Latin translations of the Arab, Geber. But Berthelot dis- 
covered the Arabic manuscripts of the real Geber, which 
turned out to be of little value and largely copied from 
Greek authors. On the other hand, the Latin works which 
had gone under Geber's name were produced in the thir- 
teenth and fourteenth centuries by men who seem, like Ade- 
lard of Bath, to have preferred to ascribe their own ideas to 
the Arabs, Let us examine for a moment with Berthelot ^ 
the chief of these Latin treatises. It is a "a systematic 
work, very well arranged. Its modest method of exposi- 
tion" differs greatly from "the vague and excessive prom- 
ises of the real Geber." Much of the book possesses "a 
truly scientific character" and "shows the state of chemical 
knowledge with a precision of thought and expression un- 
known to previous authors." As for Adelard's new ideas, 
we may not regard them as so novel as they seemed to him, 
nor estimate them so highly in comparison with ancient 
Greek science as Berthelot did medieval compared with 
Greek alchemy — much of Adelard's thought may be derived 
by him from those ancient writings in which he claims to 
have read so widely — but they were probably as new to Ade- 
lard's Latin contemporaries as they were to himself. 
'Berthelot (1893) I, 344-7- 






While Adelard's English friends displayed no bigoted op- 
position to the reception of Saracen science, the question 
of science and religion is raised in another connection in 
the very first of the questions concerning nature which the 
nephew puts to his uncle. The nephew inquires the reason 
for the growth of herbs from earth, asking, "To what else 
can you attribute this save to the marvelous effect of the 
marvelous divine will?" Adelard retorts that no doubt it 
is the Creator's will, but that the operation is also not with- 
out a natural reason. This attitude of independent scien- 
tific investigation is characteristic of Adelard. Again in 
the fourth chapter when the nephew displays a tendency to 
ascribe all effects to God indifferently as cause, Adelard ob- 
jects. He insists that he is detracting in no way from God, 
whom he grants to be the source of all things, but he holds 
that nature "is not confused and without system" and that 
"human science should be given a hearing upon those points 
which it has covered." On the other hand he has no de- 
sire in the present treatise to overstep the bounds of natural 
science and enter the field of theology. When his nephew 
towards the close wishes him to go on and discuss the prob- 
lem of God's existence and nature, he wisely responds, "You 
are now broaching a question to me where it is easier to 
disprove what isn't so than to demonstrate what is," ^ and 
that they had better go to bed and leave this big question for 
another day and another treatise.^ 

Besides preferring the learning of Arabian and other 
distant lands to the schools of Gaul, and favoring scientific 
investigation rather than unquestioning faith, Adelard also 
sets reason above authority. He not only complains of his 
generation's inborn prejudice against new ideas, but later 
on, when his nephew proposes to turn his questions from 
the subject of plants to that of animals, enters upon a longer 
diatribe against scholastic reliance upon past authorities. "It 
is difficult for me to discuss animals with you. For I learned 

* Cap. yy. I cite chapters as numbered in the editio princeps. 
^ To which the nephew cheerfully assents. 




from my Arabian masters under the leading of reason ; you, 
however, captivated by the appearance of authority, follow 
your halter. Since what else should authority be called than 
a halter? For just as brutes are led where one wills by a 
halter, so the authority of past writers leads not a few of 
you into danger, held and bound as you are by bestial 
credulity. Consequently some, usurping to themselves the 
name of authority, have used excessive license in writing, 
so that they have not hesitated to teach bestial men false- 
hood in place of truth. For why shouldn't you fill rolls of 
parchment and write on both sides, when in this age you 
generally have auditors who demand no rational judgment 
but trust simply in the mention of an old title?" ^ Adelard 
adds that those who are now reckoned authorities gained 
credence in the first instance by following reason, asserts that 
authority alone is not enough to convince, and concludes with 
the ultimatum to his nephew : "Wherefore, if you want to 
hear anything more from me, give and take reason. For I'm 
not the sort of man that can be fed on a picture of a beef- 
steak." 2 

The history of natural philosophy and science has demon- 
strated that the unaided human reason has not been equal 

to the solution of the problems of the natural universe, and micro- 
scope al- 
that elaborate and extensive observation, experience, and ready felt. 

measurement of the natural phenomena are essential. But 
exact scientific measurement was not possible with the un- 
aided human senses and required the invention of scientific 
instruments. As Adelard says in De eodem et diverso, "The 
senses are reliable neither in respect to the greatest nor the 
smallest objects. Who has ever comprehended the space of 
the sky with the sense of sight? . . . Who has ever distin- 
guished minute atoms with the eye?" ^ Notable natural 
questions these, showing that the need of the telescope and 

^ Quest, nat., cap. 6. Non enim ego ille sum quern 

* Quest, nat., cap. 6, "Quare, si pellis pictura pascere possit." 

quid amplius a me audire de- ^ D^ eodem et diverso, p. 13. 

sideras, rationem refer et recipe. 

Need of 
the tele- 
scope and 





microscope was already felt and that the discovery must in 
due time follow ! 

We must not, therefore, unduly blame Adelard for plac- 
ing, like the Greek philosophers before him, somewhat ex- 
cessive trust in human reason and believing that "nothing is 
surer than reason, nothing falser than the senses." ^ But 
in consequence much of his discussion is still in the specu- 
lative stage, and uncle as well as nephew shows the influ- 
ence of dialectical training. Some quaint and amusing in- 
stances may be given. Asked why men do not have horns 
like some other animals, Adelard at first objects to the ques- 
tion as trivial ; but when his nephew urges the utility of 
horns as weapons of defence, he replies that man has reason 
instead of horns, and that, as a social as well as bellicose 
animal, man requires weapons which he can lay aside in 
times of peace.^ Asked why the nose, with its impurities, 
is placed above the mouth, through which we eat, Adelard 
answers that nothing in nature is impure, and that the nose 
serves the head and so should be above the mouth which 
serves the stomach.^ Such arguing from the fitness of 
things and from design was common in the Greek philoso- 
phers whom Adelard had read, and in judging his treatise 
we must compare it with such books as the Saturnalia of 
Macrobius which he cites,'* the Natural Questions of Seneca, 
Plato's Timaeiis, and the Problems of Aristotle,^ rather than 
with works of modern science. 

It is noteworthy, however, even in these two amusing 
instances that the argument from design is questioned, while 
the question about horns Adelard perhaps inserted as a sly 
hit against the militarism of the feudal age. Little recked 
he of the horrible substitutes for horns that twentieth cen- 

^De eodem et diverse, p. 13. 

^ Quest, nat., cap. 15. 

* Ibid., cap. 19. 

*Ibid., cap. 35- 

'The ascription of this work to 
Aristotle is questioned by D'Arcy 
W. Thompson (1913), 14. note, 
who calls attention to the fact that 

the majority of the numerous 
place-names in it are from south- 
ern Italy or Sicily ; "and I live in 
hopes of seeing this work, or a 
very large portion of it, ex- 
punged, for this and other 
weightier reasons, from the 
canonical writings of Aristotle." 


tury warfare would work out with the aid of modern sci- 
ence. The medieval church has too often been wildly ac- 
cused of persecuting natural scientists and it has been 
erroneously stated that Roger Bacon dared not reveal the se- 
cret of the mariner's compass — which really was well known 
before his time — for fear of being- accused of magic. ^ There 
is somewhat more plausibility in the theory that he con- 
oealed the invention of gunpowder from fear of the inquisi- 
tion,^ since there appears to have been a certain medieval 
prejudice against inhuman war inventions, which historians 
of artillery somewhat impatiently ascribe to "ignorance, re- 
ligion, and chivalry," and which they hold prevented the use 
of Greek fire in the west.^ At any rate in Adelard's day the 
Second Lateran Council attempted to prohibit the use of 
military engines against men on the ground that they were 
too murderous.^ 

Returning to the Natural Questions, we may note that, Speci- 
like the Problems of Aristotle, they vary from such crude l^g^ieval 
queries as might occur to any curious person without scien- scientific 
tific training to others that imply some previous theory or 
knowledge. A list of some of them will illustrate the scope 
of the scientific curiosity of the time. When one tree is 
grafted upon another, why is all the fruit of the nature of 
the grafted portion? Why do some brutes ruminate; why 
are some animals without stomachs ; and why do some which 
drink make no water? Why do men grow bald in front? 
Why do some animals see better in the night than in the 
day and why can a man standing in the dark see objects that 
are in the light, while a man standing in the light cannot see 
objects that are in the dark? Why are the fingers of the 
human hand of unequal length and the palm hollow ? Why 

•^ See below, chapter 61, page62i, de Pisan at pp. 219-20, however, 
* I refute this theory, however, it seems to me that she has refer- 
in Appendix II to the chapter on ence only to the poisons last- 
Bacon, named and not to the Greek fires 
' Reinaud et Fave, Le feu previously named in declaring 
gregeois et Ics origines de la them inhuman and against all the 
Poudre a canon, (1845) p. 210. laws of war. 
In the quotation from Christine * Ibid., p. 128. 




don't babies walk as soon as they are born, and why are they 
at first nourished upon milk, and why doesn't milk agree 
equally with old and young? Why do we fear dead bodies?^ 
A number of questions are devoted to each of the topics, 
vision, hearing, and heat, while the senses of taste, smell, and 
touch are dismissed in a single question and answer.^ 
Theory of The discussion of sound and vision may be noted more 

fully. The nephew has already learned from his Boethius 
something similar to the wave theory of sound. He states 
that when the air has been formed by the mouth of the 
speaker and impelled by the tongue, it impresses the same 
form upon that which is next to it, and that this process 
is repeated over and over just as concentric circles are 
formed when a stone is thrown into water. ^ Vitruvius had 
given the same explanation in discussing the acoustics of a 
theater.^ But when the nephew asks his uncle how the 
voice can penetrate an iron wall, Adelard replies that every 
metal body, no matter how solid, has some pores through 
which the air can pass.^ Thus he appears to regard air as 
the only substance which can transmit or conduct sound 
waves. His notion that air can pass through solids reminds 
one a little of the milder theory of Hero of Alexandria that 
heat and light consist of material particles which penetrate 
the interstices between the atoms composing air and water.® 
But it hardly seems as if Adelard could have derived his 
notion from Hero, since the impermeability of metal ves- 
sels to air is a fundamental hypothesis in many of the de- 
vices of Hero's Pneumatics. 

^ The questions thus far listed thrown into smooth water, and 

occur in the order of mention in which keep on spreading indefi- 

the following chapters : 6, 7, 10, nitely from the center unless in- 

II, 20, 12, 30, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 46. terrupted by narrow limits, or by 

* Quest, not., cap. 31. some obstruction which prevents 

' Qttcst. not., cap. 21. such waves from reaching their 

*De architectura, V, iii, 6 end in due formation. When they 

(Morgan's translation). "Voice are interrupted by obstructions, 

is a flowing breath of air, per- the first waves, flowing back, 

ceptible to the hearing by contact. break up the formation of those 

It moves in an endless number of whkh follow, 

circular rounds, like the innumer- ° Quest, tuit., cap. 22. 

ably increasing circular waves * See above, chapter 5, vol. I, 

which appear when a stone is page 191. 


Aclelard's theory of vision, that of extramission of "a Theory of 
visible spirit," is similar to that of Plato in the Timaeus, 
by which he was not unlikely influenced. The visible spirit 
passes from the brain to the eye through "concave nerves 
which the Greeks call optic," and from the eye to the object 
seen and back again "with marvelous celerity." ^ It would 
be interesting to know certainly whether Adelard penned this 
passage before John of Spain translated into Latin the De 
differentia spiritiis et animae, in which Costa ben Luca 
speaks of "hollow nerves" from the brain to the eye through 
which the spiriUis passes for the purpose of vision.^ Ap- 
parently Adelard was first, since the Natural Questiotis were 
finished at some time between 1107 and 1133, while John 
of Spain is said to have made his translation for Raymond 
who was archbishop of Toledo from 11 30 to 11 50. Were 
the manuscripts not so insistent in naming John as trans- 
lator,^ we might think that Adelard had translated the De 
differentia spiritiis et animae. Very possibly he had come 
across it during his study with Arabian masters. But he 
shows no acquaintance with the optical researches of Al- 
Hazen or with the treatise on Optics ascribed to Ptolemy, 
which last is extant only in the twelfth century Latin trans- 
lation by Eugene of Palermo, admiral of Sicily.^ How- 
ever, the fact that three other theories of vision than the 
one which Adelard accepts are set forth by his nephew sug- 
gests that the problem was attracting attention. Pliny's 
Natural History gave no theory of vision whatever, al- 
though he listed various cases of extraordinary sight. 
Boethius, on the other hand, briefly adverted to the opposing 
theories of vision by extramission and intramission in the 
first chapter of his work on music. As for the marvelous 
celerity of the visible spirit, Augustine had enlarged upon 
the vast distance to the sun and back traveled by the visual 
ray in an instant or twinkling of an eye.^ 

' Quest, nat., cap. 2^. * See above, chapter 3, page 107. 

'See above, chapter 28, I, 659. ^ De Gcncsi ad litteram, IV, 34; 

* See above, chapter 28, I, 657. Migne, PL 34, 319-20. 



from hot 
and cold, 
moist and 

ment of 
the four 

Throughout the Naturcd Questions Adelard's explana- 
tions and answers are based in large measure upon the 
familiar hypothesis of the four elements and of the four 
qualities, hot and cold, dry and moist. When asked, for 
instance, why all ruminating animals begin to lie down 
with their hind legs, he explains that their scanty animal 
heat is the cause of their ruminating to aid digestion, and 
that there is more frigidity in their posterior members, 
which are consequently heavier and so are bent first in re- 
clining. The nephew thinks that here he has caught his 
uncle napping, and asks why is it then that in rising they 
lift themselves first onto their hind legs. But Adelard is not 
to be so easily nonplussed, and explains that after they have 
lain down and rested, they feel so refreshed that they lift 
their heavier limbs first. ^ Again, asked why persons of 
quick perception often have faulty memories, Adelard sug- 
gests that a moist brain is more conducive to intelligence, 
but a dry one to memory. Thus moist potter's clay receives 
impressions more readily but also easily loses them; what 
is drier receives the impression with more difficulty but re- 
tains it.^ In a third passage, Adelard explains his nephew's 
weeping in his joy at seeing his uncle safely returned by 
the theory that his excessive delight overheated his brain 
and distilled moisture thence.^ 

Adelard, however, like Galen, Constantinus Africanus, 
Basil, and other writers before him, finds it advisable to re- 
fine the theory of the four elements. He is at pains in his an- 
swer to the nephew's very first question to explain that what 
we commonly call earth is not the element earth, and that no 
one ever touched the pure element water, or saw the ele- 
ments air and fire. Every particular object contains all four 
elements and we deal in daily life only with compounds. 
In an herb, for instance, unless there were fire, there would 
be no growth upward ; unless there were water or air, no 

* Quest, nat., caps. 8-9. 

'Ibid., cap. 17. 

^ Ibid., cap. 32. On "weeping as 

a salutation," see J. 
(1918) 11,82-93. 

G. Frazer 




spreading out; and without earth, no consistency. More- 
over, when Adelard is asked why some herbs are spoken of 
as hot by nature, although all plants have more earth than 
fire in their composition, he says that while earth predomi- 
nates quantitatively, efficaciously they are more fiery, just 
as his green cloak is larger than his green emerald, but much 
less potent.^ Thus comes in the theory of occult virtue 
to help out the inadequate and unsatisfactory hypothesis of 
four elements and four qualities. We shall find our subse- 
quent authors often resorting to the same explanation. 

Adelard may believe in the marvelous virtue of emeralds, 
to which indeed he alludes rather inadvertently, but we do 
not find in the Natural Questions any of the common tales 
concerning remarkable animal sagacity or malice. This 
may be mere accident or it may be due to his warning in 
introducing the discussion of animals to give and take rea- 
son only. However, the question is discussed whether the 
brutes possess souls,^ and he states that the common people 
are sure that they do not, and that only philosophers assert 
that animals have souls. This does not mean that their souls 
are rational, however: either animals possess "neither intelli- 
gence nor discretion but only opinion which is founded not 
in the soul but in the body" ; or perhaps they have "some 
judgment why they seek and avoid certain things," and 
such discretion of sense as enables a dog to distinguish scents. 
If they possess such animal souls, do these perish with the 

Adelard is correctly informed as to the shape of the 
earth and its center of gravity. Asked how the terrestrial 
globe is upheld in the midst of space, he retorts that in a 
round space it is evident that the center and the bottom are 
the same.^ This thought is reinforced by the next question, 
If there were a hole clear through the earth and a stone 
were dropped in, how far would it fall? Adelard correctly 
answers. Only to the center of the earth. The same ques- 


shape and 
center of 

^ Quest, nat., cap. 2. 
* Ibid., caps. 13-14. 

* Ibid., cap. 



of matter. 


stated by 
Hugh of 
St. Victor. 

tion is asked of Adelard by a Greek in the De eodem et 
diverso, so that, in case we regard the De eodem as written 
before the Natural Questions, it would appear that he had 
not derived his conclusion in this matter from either the 
Greeks or the Arabs. However, we have heard Plutarch 
scofif at the statement that bars weighing a thousand talents 
would stop falling at the earth's center, if a hole were opened 
up through the earth.^ 

In a recent review of Sir William Ramsay's The Life 
and Letters of Joseph Black, M.D., it is stated, "The nature 
of the experiment he (Black) made is not now known, but 
his tremendous comment on it was, 'Nothing escapes!' 
Have we here really the first glimmering of the great prin- 
ciple of the indestructibility of matter which, with the asso- 
ciated principle regarding energy, forms the foundation of 
modern chemistry and physics?"^ To this the answer is, 
"No." Adelard of Bath stated the indestructibility of mat- 
ter eight centuries earlier, and apparently not as the result 
of any experiment. But his utterance was fuller and more 
explicit than that of Black. "And certainly in my judg- 
ment nothing in this world of sense ever perishes utterly, or 
is less today than when it was created. H any part is dis- 
solved from one union, it does not perish but is joined to 
some other group," ^ 

The indestructibility of matter is also stated by Ade- 
lard's contemporary, Hugh of St. Victor, who remarks in 
the Didascalicon that of earthly things which have a begin- 
ning and an end "it has been said, 'Nothing in the universe 
ever dies because no essence perishes.' For the essences of 
things do not change, but the forms. And when a form is 
said to change, it should not be so understood that any exist- 
ing thing is believed to perish utterly and lose its being, but 

^ Chapter 6, I, 219. 
' London Weekly Times, Liter- 
ary Supplement, Nov. 15, 1918, p. 


' Quest, nat., cap, 4, "Et meo 
ccriu ma.ciu in Hoc sensibiii niun- 

do nihil omnino moritur nee minor 
est hodie quam cum creatus est. 
Si qua pars ab una coniunctione 
solvitur, non perit sed ad aliam 
societatem transit," 




only to undergo alteration, either perchance so that those 
things which were joined are separated, or those joined 
which had been separated. . . ." ^ Hugh was quite cer- 
tainly a younger man than Adelard, but it is not so certain 
that the Didascalicon was written after the Natural Ques- 
tions, although it is probable. Or Hugh may have heard 
Adelard lecture in Gaul or learned his view concerning the 
indestructibility of matter indirectly. Or they both may 
have drawn it independently from a common source." 

In an article entitled Roger Bacon et I'Horreiir du- Vide ^ 
Professor ' Pierre Duhem advanced the thesis that in 
place of the previous doctrine that nature abhors a vacuum 
Roger Bacon was the first to formulate a theory of uni- 
versal continuity. This was an incorrect hypothesis, it is 
true, but one which Professor Duhem believed to have served 
the useful purpose of supplementing "the Peripatetic theory 
of heavy and light" until the discovery of atmospheric pres- 
sure. This theory developed in connection with certain prob- 
lematical phenomena of which this "experiment" is the chief 
and typical case. If there be suspended in air a vessel of 
water having a hole in the top and several narrow apertures 
in the bottom, no water will fall from it as long as the 
superior aperture is closed. Yet water is heavier than air 
and according to the principles of Aristotle's Physics should 
fall to the ground. Writers before Roger Bacon, according 
to Duhem, explain this anomaly by saying that the fall of 
the water would produce a vacuum and that a vacuum can- 
not exist in nature. But Bacon argues that a vacuum 
cannot be the reason why the water does not fall, because 
a vacuum does not exist; he then explains further that al- 
though by their particular natures water tends downwards 

^Didascalicon I, 7 (Migne, PL 

* Plotinus had said, "Nothing 
that really is can ever perish" 


of uni- 

{ov5iv dTToXeiTat rOiv ovtoiv), 
a:- Dean Inge notes, The Philoso- 
phy of Plotinus, 1918, I, 189. 
There is also resemblance be- 
tween the Didascalicon (II, 13) 

and De eodem et diverso (p. 27, 
line 7) in their division of music 
into mundane, human, and instru- 
mental. For this Boethius is very 
likely the common source. 

^ In Roger Bacon Commemora- 
tion Essays, ed. by A. G. Little, 
Oxford, 1914, pp. 241-S4. 



stated by 

and air upwards, by their nature as parts of the universe 
they tend to remain in continuity. Duhem held that Roger 
Bacon was the first to substitute this positive law of uni- 
versal continuity for the mere negation that a vacuum can- 
not exist in nature.^ 

Professor Duhem supported his case by citation of Greek, 
Byzantine, and Arabic sources and by use of writings of 
fourteenth century physicists available only in manuscripts. 
But unfortunately for his main contention he overlooked 
a remarkable passage written by Adelard of Bath over a 
century before Roger Bacon. In the fifty-eighth chapter 
of the Natural Questions the nephew says, "There is 
still one point about the natures of waters which is un- 
clear to me." He then asks his uncle to explain a water 
jar, similar to that just described, which they had once seen 
at the house of an enchantress. Adelard replies in his clear, 
easy style, so different from the scholastic discussion in 
Bacon's corresponding passages. "If it was magic, the en- 
chantment was worked by violence of nature rather than of 
waters. For although four elements compose the body of 
this world of sense, they are so united by natural affection 
that, as no one of them desires to exist without another, so 
no place is or can be void of them. Therefore immediately 
one of them leaves its position, another succeeds it without 
interval, nor can one leave its place unless some other which 
is especially attached to it can succeed it." Hence it is futile 
to give the water a chance to escape unless you give the air 
a chance to enter. Be it noted that Adelard not only thus 
anticipates the theory of universal continuity, but also in 
the last clause of the quotation approaches the doctrine of 
chemical affinity in the formation and disintegration of 
molecules. Finally, he describes what actually occurs in the 
experiment more accurately than Roger Bacon or the other 
physicists cited by Duhem. "Hence it comes about that, if 
in a vessel which is absolutely tight above an aperture is 

* Roger Bacon Essays, p. 266. 


made below, the liquid flows out only interruptedly and with 
bubbling. For as much air gets in as liquid goes out, and 
this air, since it finds the water porous, by its own properties 
of tenuity and lightness makes its way to the top of the 
vessel and occupies what seems to be a vacuum." 

This detailed and accurate description of exactly what Expcri- 
takes place shows us Adelard's powers of observation and j^aeic^" 
experiment at their best, and compares favorably with two 
cruder examples of experimentation which he ascribes to 
others. He states that it was discovered experimentally 
which portion of the brain is devoted to the imagination 
and which parts to reason and memory through a case in 
which a man was injured in the front part of the head.^ 
In the other instance some philosophers, in order to study 
the veins and muscles of the human body, bound a corpse 
in running water until all the flesh had been removed by the 
current.^ But the question remains, how often did Abelard 
exercise his powers of accurate observation by actual ex- 
periments? Certainly one thing is noteworthy, that the 
best and almost sole experiment that he details is repre- 
sented by him as suggested by the magic water jar of an 
enchantress. Thus we are once again impelled to the con- 
clusion that experimental method owes a considerable debt 
to magic, and that magic owed a great deal to experimental 

We are also reminded of the association of similar Adelard 
water-jars with thaumaturgy in the Pneumatics of Hero of of Alex- 
Alexandria.^ It will be noted that Adelard is content with a ^"d"^- 
single illustration of the principle involved, while Hero kept 
reintroducing instances of it. And while Hero gave little 
more than practical directions, Adelard gives a philosophical 
interpretation of and scientific deduction from the experi- 
ment. But he also describes what actually occurs more ac- 
curately, admitting that some liquid will gradually flow out 

^ Quest, not., cap. 16. For a VII, 18 (Migne, PL 34, 364). 
somewhat similar passage in Au- ' Ibid., cap. 18. 

gustine see De Genesi ad littcram, ' See above, chapter 5, I, 191. 



even when the air-hole is kept closed. Here again, as in the 
case of the theory of the penetration of the particles of one 
substance between those of another mentioned in our para- 
graph above on the theory of sound, it is difficult to say 
whether Adelard was acquainted with Hero's works. Prob- 
ably it is only chance that Hero's Pneumatics seems to con- 
tain almost exactly the same number of theorems as Ade- 
lard's Natural Questions has chapters.^ 

It remains to consider Adelard's attitude towards the 
stars, which is very similar to that of Plato's Tinvaeus. 
We have already seen that he translated works of Arabic 
astrology. Such a work as the tables of Al-Khowarizmi 
evidently has an astrological purpose, enabling one to find 
the horoscope accurately. In the De eodem et diverso he 
calls the celestial bodies "those superior and divine animals," 
and "the causes and principle of inferior natures." One who 
masters the science of astronomy can comprehend not only 
the present state of inferior things but also the past and the 
future.^ The existence of music, says Adelard in another 
passage, supplies philosophers with a strong argument for 
their belief that "the soul has descended into the body from 
the stars above." ^ In the De eodem et diverso Adelard also 
expresses the belief that from present phenomena the mind 
can look ahead far into the future, and that the soul can 
sometimes foresee the future in dreams.^ 

In the Natural Questions ^ Adelard again alludes to the 
stars as "those superior animals," and when asked whether 
they are animated replies that he deems anyone to be with- 
out sense who contends that the stars are senseless, and that 
to call those bodies lifeless which produce vitality in other 
bodies is ridiculous. He regards "the bodies of the stars" 
as composed of the same four elements as this world of in- 
ferior creation, but he believes that in their composition 
those elements predominate which conduce most to life and 

*That is, 78 and 77. 

^Dc eodem et diverso, p. 32. 

* Ibid., p. 10. 

* Ibid., p. 13. 

* Quest, nat., caps. 74-77. 


reason, and that the celestial bodies are more fiery than terres- 
trial bodies. "But their fire is not harsh, but gentle and 
harmless. It therefore follows that it is obedient to and in 
harmony with sense and reason." Their form, too, being 
"full and round," is especially adapted to reason. Finally, 
if reason and foresight exist even in our dark and perturbed 
lower world, how much more must the stars employ intelli- 
gence in their determined and constant courses? When the 
nephew proceeds to inquire what food the stars eat, since 
they are animals, Adelard shows no surprise, but answers 
that as diviner creatures they use a purer sustenance than we, 
namely, the humidities of earth and water which, extenuated 
and refiined by their long upward transit, neither augment 
the stars in w^eight nor dull their reason and prudence. But 
when the nephew asks whether the aplanon or outermost and 
immovable sphere of heaven should be called God or not, 
Adelard answers that to assert this is in one sense philo- 
sophical but in another, insane and abominable, and he then 
avoids further discussion by terminating the treatise, ■ 

For some reason, which I failed to discover, the cata- Astrology 
logue of the Cotton manuscripts in the British Museum, in anony- 
describing "a philosophical treatise concerning the principles "lo^s 

r - 1 r ^ • -i ■ n • , , WOrk, pcr- 

01 nature, the power oi celestial niriuences on mmds and haps by 
morals, and other matters," ^ states that "the author seems lardus. 
to be Athelardus." The treatise is perhaps of later date 
than Adelard of Bath, but as it would be equally difficult 
to connect it with any other of our authors, we will give 
some account of it now. It seems to be incomplete as it 
stands both at the beginning and end, but the main interest 
in the portion preserved to us is astrological. Authorities 
are cited such as Hermes Trismegistus, Theodosius, 
Ptolemy, Apollonius of Thebes, "Albateni," and "Abu- 
maxar." Discussing the number of elements our author 
states that medical men speak of the four parts of the in- 

* Cotton Titus D, iv, fols. 75- closing "pars tercia tocius orbis 
138V, opening "fiat ordinata parato terreni. unde reliqua duo spacia 
quo facile amplectamur . . .", and reliqua." 



ferior world, fire, air, water, earth, ^ but that astrologers 
make the number of the elements twelve, adding the eight 
parts of the superior world.- Later our author argues 
further for astrological influence as against "the narrow 
medical man who thinks of no effects of things except those 
of inferior nature merely." ^ Our author holds that forms 
come from above tc matter here below, and discusses the 
influence of the sky on the generation of humans and metals, 
plants and animals, and connects seven colors and seven 
metals with the planets.^ He furthermore, in all probability 
following Albumasar in this, asserts that the course of his- 
tory may be foretold by means of astrology and that dif- 
ferent religions go with different planets.^ The Jews are 
under Saturn; the Arabs, under Venus and Mars, which 
explains the warlike and sensual character of their religion; 
the Christian Roman Empire, under the Sun and Jupiter. 
"Ancient writers argue" and "present experience proves" ® 
that the Sun stands for honesty, liberality, and victory; 
Jupiter, for peace, equity, and humanity. The constant 
enmity between the Jews and Christians, and Moslems and 
Christians, is explained by the fact that neither Mars nor 
Saturn is ever in friendly relation with Jupiter. These three 
religions also observe the days of the week corresponding 
to their planets: the Christians, Sunday; the Moslems, Fri- 
day or Venus's day; the Jews, Saturday. Our author also 
explains the worships of the Egyptians and Greeks by their 
relation to signs of the zodiac. 

Despite the allusion just mentioned to "the experience of 
to-day," our author perhaps shows too great a tendency to 
cite authorities to be that Adelard of Bath who wished to 
give and take reason and reproved his nephew for blind 
trust in authority. In discussing the theme of spirits and 
demons "^ — a different problem, it is true, from natural 

* Cotton Titus D, iv, fol. 77r. 
*Ibid., fol. 78r. 

nbid., fol. i26v. 

* Ibid., fols, 127-32. 
^ Ibid., fols. 1 13-4. 

* f ol. 113V, "Et antiqui scrip- 
ture arguunt et hodierni temporis 
experimentum probat" . . . 

''Ibid., fols. 120V-124V. 


questions — he thinks that "it is enough in these matters to 
have faith in the authority of those who, divinely illumi- 
nated, could penetrate into things divine by the purer vision 
of the mind." He proceeds to cite Apuleius and Trisme- 
gistus, Hermes in The Golden Bought "Apollonius" in The 
Secrets of Nature, which he wrote alone in the desert, and 
Aristotle who tells of a spirit of Venus who came to him in 
a dream and instructed him as to the sacrifice which he 
should perform under a certain constellation. 

But I would close this chapter on Adelard not with super- Adelard's 
stition from a treatise of dubious authenticity, but rather influence 
with reaffirmation of the importance in the long history ot 
science of his brief work, the Natural Questions. Its prob- 
able effects upon Hugh of St. Victor and Roger Bacon are 
instances of its medieval influence to which we shall add in 
subsequent chapters. But most impressive is the fact that 
within such compact compass it considers so many problems 
and topics that are still of interest to modern science. For 
instance, its two concrete examples of the stone dropped 
into a hole extending through the earth's center and of the 
magic water jar have been common property ever since. 





of the 

queen did 
play the 

It is a difficult matter to fix the date either of the De 
eodem ct divcrso or of the Questiones Naturales, and to 
account satisfactorily for the various allusions to contem- 
porary events and to Adelard's own movements which occur 
in either. It is not even entirely certain which treatise was 
written first, as neither contains an unmistakable allusion to 
the other. On general grounds the De eodcm et diverso 
would certainly seem the earlier work, but there are some 
reasons for thinking the contrary. It seems clear that not 
many years elapsed between the composition of the two 
works, but how many is uncertain. It is evident that the 
De eodem et diverso must have been written by 1116 at the 
latest in order to dedicate it to William, bishop of Syracuse. 
But the Questiones imturales apparently might have been 
dedicated to Richard, bishop of Bayeux, at almost any time 
during his pontificate from 1107 to 1133, although probably 
not long after 1116. 

Professor Haskins would narrow down the time during 
which the De eodem et diverso could have been written to 
the years from about 1104 to 1109, with the single year 
1116 as a further possibility. He says, "Adelard speaks of 
having played the citliara before the queen in the course of 
his musical studies in France the preceding year, and as 
there was no queen of France between the death of Philip I 
and the marriage of Louis VI in 1115, the treatise, unless 
the bishop of Syracuse was still alive in in 6, would not 





be later than 1109." ^ But may not the queen referred to 
have been Matilda, the wife of Henry I?^ She was a 
patroness both of artists and of men of letters, and the Pipe 
Roll for 1 1 30 and the treatise on the astrolabe have shown 
us that later, at least, it was the English royal family with 
which Adelard, himself an Englishman, was connected. It 
is of "Gaul," not of "France" in the sense of territory sub- 
ject to the French monarch, that Adelard writes,^ and 
Normandy was of course under Henry's rule after the 
battle of Tinchebrai in 1 106. 

The De eodem et diverso takes the form of a letter ^ 
from Adelard to his nephew, justifying his "laborious 
itinerary" in pursuit of learning against the reproach of 
"levity and inconstancy" made by the nephew, and stating 
"the cause of my travel among the learned men of various 
regions," at which the nephew has time and again expressed 
his astonishment, and the reasons for which his uncle has 
kept concealed from him for two years. ^ This letter seems 
to have been written by Adelard in Sicily, since it is prefaced 

^Haskins (1911) pp. 492-3. 

^It is true that after 1109, "The 
queen herself, who had for a time 
accompanied the movements of 
her husband, now resided mostly 
at Westminster" (G. B. Adams 
in Hunt and Poole, Political His- 
tory of England, II, 151), so that 
Adelard would not have had many 
opportunities to play before her in 
the English possessions across the 
channel after that date. 

^ De eodem et diverso, pp. 25-6, 
Philosophy addresses Adelard, 
". . . cum praeterito anno in 
eadem musica Gallicis studiis totus 
sudares adessetque in serotino 
tempore magister artis una cum 
discipulis cum eorum reginaeque 
rogatu citharam tangeres." 

* P. 3, line 16, "Quoniam autem 
in epistola hac . . ."; line 25, 
"Hanc autem epistolam 'De eodem 
et diverso' intitulavi" ; p. 34, line 
7, "Vale ; et utrum recte dis- 
putaverim, tecum dijudica." 

' P. 3, line 9, "Nam et ego, cum 
idem metuens iniustae cuidam 

nepotis mei accusationi rescribere 
vererer, in hanc demum senten- 
tiam animum compuli, ut repre- 
hensionis metum patienter ferrem, 
accusationi iniustae pro posse meo 

P. 4, line 6, "Saepenumero ad- 
mirari soles, nepos, laboriosi iti- 
neris mei causam et aliquando 
acrius sub nomine levitatis et in- 
constantiae propositum accusare 
. . ."; line 17, "Et ego, si tibi idem 
videtur, causam erroris mei — ita 
enim vocare soles — paucis edis- 
seram et multiplicem labyrinthum 
ad unum honesti exitum vo- 
cabo . . ." ; line 22, "Ego rem, 
quam per biennium celavi, ut tibi 
morem geram aperiam. . . ." 

P. 34, line 3, "Hactenus, caris- 
sime nepos, tibi causam itineris 
mei per diversarum regionum 
doctores flexi satagens explicavi, 
ut et me injustae accusationis tuae 
onere alleviarem et tibi eorun- 
dem studioruni affectum appli- 
carem. . . ." 

which the 
De eodem 
et diverso 




in the 

with a dedication to William, bishop of Syracuse, and since 
towards its close Adelard speaks of "coming from Salerno 
into Graecia maior" ^ — a phrase by which he presumably 
refers to the ancient Magna Graecia, or southern Italy, and 
perhaps also Sicily. In the preceding year, however, Ade- 
lard and his nephew had been together in Tours." It thus 
appears that the De codem was written not very long after 
Adelard set out on his quest for foreign learning, while he 
was still in the Greek or semi-Greek learned society of 
southern Italy and Sicily, and presumably before he had 
come into contact with the science of the Saracens, which 
he does not mention in the De eodem et diverso, although 
traces of it undoubtedly lingered in Sicily. He writes as 
if the idea had only comparatively recently come to him 
"that he could much broaden his education, if he crossed 
the Alps and visited other teachers than those of Gaul." 

In the Natural Questions, on the other hand, he returns 
to England after seven years, instead of a single year, of 
separation from his nephew, after a visit to the principality 
of Antioch,^ and after a considerable period of study among 
the Saracens or Arabs. It is rather natural, however, to 
conclude that the same absence abroad is referred to in 
both treatises, and that Adelard wrote Dc eodem et diverso 
to his nephew after he had been absent a year, while the 
Natural Questions was composed after his return at the 
end of seven years. Thus six years would separate the two 
treatises. But the Natural Questions depicts a different last 
parting of uncle and nephew from that of De eodem et di- 
verso. It does not allude to their having been together in 

* P. 33, line 13, "... a Salerno 
veniens in Graecia maiore . . ." ; 
also p. 32, line 27, "Quod enim 
Gallica studia nesciunt, transal- 
pina reserabunt ; quod apud Lati- 
nos non addisces, Graecia facunda 

' P. 4, line 25, "Erat praeterito 
in anno vir quidam apud Turoni- 
um . . . et te eius probitas non 
lateat, qui una ibi mecum adesses." 

^ Quest, ttat.. cap. 51, "Cum seme) 
in partibus Antiochenis pontem 
civitatis Manistre transires, ipsam 
pontem simul etiam totam ipsam 
regionem terre motu contre- 
muisse." It is true that this re- 
mark is put into the nephew's 
mouth, but it is probably meant 
to refer to an incident of Ade- 
lard's recent trip abroad and not 
to some previous one. 




Tours seven years ago, but reminds the nephew how, when 
his uncle took leave of him and his other pupils at Laon 
seven years since, it was agreed between them that while 
Adelard investigated Arabian learning, his nephew should 
continue his studies in Gaul.^ In the De eodem et diverso, 
on the contrary, neither Laon nor the Arabs nor any such 
agreement between uncle and nephew is mentioned. Rather, 
the uncle seems to have at first kept secret the motives for 
his crossing the Alps. It therefore may be that Adelard 
had returned from Sicily to Gaul and had taught at Laon 
for a short time before setting out on a longer period of 
travel in quest of Arabian science. This would agree well 
enough with his allusion to his nephew in the De eodem et 
diverso as "still a boy," ^ and the statement in the Natural 
Questions that his nephew was "little more than a boy" ^ 
when he parted from him seven years before. In this case 
the Natural Questions would have been written more than 
seven years after the De eodem et diverso. This is, I think, 
the most tenable and plausible hypothesis. 

There are, it is true, one or two circumstances which 
might be taken to indicate that the De eodem et diverso was 
written after the Questiones naturales. In the sole manu- 
script of the De eodem thus far known "* it follows that et diverso 
treatise, and its title Of the same and different might be te^yf7'^' 
taken as a continuation with variations of the general line ^^t Natural 
of thought of the other treatise. But it is perhaps just be- 
cause some copyist has so interpreted its title that it is put 

Some ap- 
parent in- 
that the 

* Quest, nat., procm'mm. "Memi- 
nisti, nepos, septennio iam trans- 
acto, cum te in gallicis studiis 
pene puerum iuxta hiudisdunum 
una cum ceteris auditoribus meis 
dimiserim, id inter nos con- 
venisse ut arabum studia pro 
posse meo scrutarer, te vero 
gallicarum sententiarum in con- 
stantiam non minus acquireres? 

(Nepos) Memini eo quoque 
magis quod tu discedens philoso- 
phic attentum futurum me fidei 
promissione astringeres." 

^ De eodem, p. 4, line 10, "cum 

tn pueritia adhuc detinearis." In 
this treatise, too, Adelard him- 
self is regularly spoken of as 
iuvenis, which is, however, an ex- 
ceedingly vague word. 

^ "pene puerum" 

* Latin MS 2389, a twelfth cen- 
tury parchment, of the Bib- 
liotheque Nationale, Paris. The 
Questiones naturales end at fol. 
82V, whence the De eodem et 
diverso continues to fol. 91V. The 
manuscript is described by Will- 
ner at p. 27 of his edition of the 
De eodem et diverso. 



after the Natural Questions in this manuscript. At any rate 
in the text itself Adelard gives another explanation of its 
title, stating that it has reference to the allegorical figures, 
Philosophia and Philocosmia, who address him in his vision, 
and who, he says, are designated as eadem and diversa "by 
the prince of philosophers," — an allusion perhaps to some 
of Aristotle's pronouns.^ Another curious circumstance 
is that the problem. How far would a stone of great weight 
fall, if dropped in a hole extending through the earth at the 
center? occurs in both the De eodem and Natural Ques- 
tions.^ In the latter the nephew puts the query to his uncle : 
in the former a Grecian philosopher whom Adelard has been 
questioning concerning the properties of the magnet in at- 
tracting iron, in his turn asks Adelard this question. Now 
in the Natural Questions Adelard's answer is given, as if 
the nephew had never heard it before, but in the De eodem 
et diverso it is simply stated that the Greek "listened to my 
explanation of this," as if the nephew had already heard 
the explanation from his uncle. ^ 

In opening the Natural Questions Adelard states that 
Henry I was reigning when he returned to England recently. 
This statement, in Professor Haskins' opinion, "would seem 
to imply that he originally left England for his studies in 
France before Plenry's accession." I am not quite sure that 
this inference follows, but if it does, may one not go a step 
further and argue that Henry I had come to the throne since 
Adelard parted from his nephew at Laon to investigate the 
learning of the Arabs? Had Henry become king of Eng- 
land while Adelard was still studying or teaching in north- 

' P. 3, line 25flF. "Hanc autem 
epistolam 'De eodem et diverso' 
intitulavi, quoniam videlicet maxi- 
niam orationis partem duabus per- 
sonis, philosophiae scilicet atgue 
philocosmiae attribui, una quarum 
eadem, alter vero diversa a prin- 
cipe philosophorum appellatur." 
Adelard fails to explain why the 
title is not Dc cadcm ct diversa, 
as his explanation might seem to 


'Quest, nal., cap. 49; De eodem 
et diverso. p. 33. 

' In both treatises Adelard re- 
gards the stars as divine animals, 
as we have seen, and refers to 
the same partition of the head 
amor^cr the mental faculties in 
both {Quest, nat.. cap. 18; De 
eodem. p. 2,2') but there is nothing 
to indicate which passage is prior. 


ern Gaul, he would almost certainly have heard of it, and 
it would have been no news to him on his return from his 
studies among the Arabs. If we accept this view, Adelard's 
return to England would be not later than 1 107. But it 
could scarcely be earlier, if he wrote and dedicated the 
Natural Questions promptly after his arrival, of which he 
speaks as a recent event in that work, since the dedicatee 
did not become Bishop of Bayeux until 1107. And if the 
Dc eodem et diverso was written more than seven years 
before the Natural Questions, we should have to date it back 
into the eleventh century, which would perhaps be too early 
for its dedication to William, bishop of Syracuse. And to 
put these two works so early is to leave a gap between them 
and the other known dates of Adelard's career, 1126, 1130, 
and 1142-1146, and make the period of his literary pro- 
ductivity quite a long one. He would have been quite a 
graybeard when he wrote on the astrolabe for the juvenile 
Henry Plantagenet. On the whole, therefore, I am in- 
clined to think that Henry I had been reigning for some 
time when Adelard wrote the Natural Questions. 



His relation to his time — Early life — Writings — Philosophia: gen- 
eral character — Contemporary education — Good and bad demons — 
Astronomy and astrology — Extent of the influence of the stars — Science 
and religion — Letter of William of St. Thierry to St. Bernard — Extent 
of William's retraction in the Dragmaticon — Reassertion of previous 
views — No denial of science — William's future influence — Appendix I. 
Editions and Manuscripts of the Original and of the Revised Version 
of the Work of William of Conches on Natural Philosophy. 

". . . rejoicing not in the many hut in the probity of the 
few, we toil for truth alone." 

— Philosophia (1531) p. 28. 

Hisrela- PRACTICALLY contemporary with Adelard of Bath and as- 
hi°"time sociated Hke him with members of the EngHsh royal Hne 
was WilHam of Conches,^ of whom we shall treat in the 
present chapter. Like Adelard also he withdrew from the 
schools of Gaul after teaching there for a time — longer ap- 
parently than Adelard; like Adelard he followed the guid- 
ance of reason and took an interest in natural science; like 
him he employed the dramatic dialogue form in his works. 
John of Salisbury, who studied grammar under William 
of Conches and Richard Bishop {I'Evcqiic) from about 
1138 to 1 141," represents those masters as successors to the 

* On William of Conches see, 12, 293-310) and "The Masters of 

besides HL XXI, 455 ct scq. and the Schools at Paris and Char- 

DNB, Antoine Charma, Gnillaumc tres in John of Salisbury's Time," 

de Conches, Paris, 1857; B. Hau- EHR, 35 (1920) pp. 321-42. For 

reau, in his Sincjularites histo- editions and MSS of the original 

riques ct litteraircs, Paris, 1861 ; version and revision of William's 

H. F. Reuter, Gcschichtc dcr re- chief philosophical treatise see 

ligiosen Aufkliirung im Mittel- Appendix I at the close of this 

alter, II (1877) pp. 6-10; R. L. chapter. For his other works see 

Poole, Illustrations of the History my subsequent foot-notes. 

of Medieval Thought, 1884, pp. ^ Metalogicus II. 10. 
124-31, 338-63, (or, 1920, pp. 106- 



thorough-going educational methods and humanistic ideals 
of Bernard of Chartres; but adds that later, when men 
"preferred to seem rather than be philosophers, and pro- 
fessors of the arts promised to transmit all philosophy to 
their hearers in less than three or two years' time, overcome 
by the onslaught of the unskilled multitude, they ceased 
teaching." ^ William then seems to have entered the service 
of Geoffrey Plantagenet, to whom as duke of Normandy as 
well as count of Anjou we find William addressing his 
Dragmaticon or Dramaticus, which takes the form of a dia- 
logue between them. It thus was written at some time be- 
tween 1 1 44 and 1 150, the period when Geoffrey was duke 
of Normandy." His son, the future Henry H of England, 
was in Normandy from 1146 to 1149, when William ap- 
pears to have been his tutor.^ In the Dragmaticon William 
praises Geoffrey for training his children "from a tender 
age" in the study of literature/ and before the boy was 
made duke of Normandy by his father in 11 50 at the age 
of seventeen William prepared for his perusal a collection 
of moral extracts from such classical Latin authors as 
Cicero, Seneca, Juvenal, Horace, Lucan, and Persius, en- 
titled De honesto et utili.^ The last we hear of William 
seems to be in 11 54, under which date Alberic des Trois 

^ Metalogicus, 1, 24. _ _ literarum tenera aetate imbuisti" 

* Haskins, Norman Institutions, maj^ be retrospective, and as one 
1918, p. 130. Haskins, Ibid., p. can scarcely argue with any chron- 
205, has found no authority for ological exactness from these 
Geoffrey's absence on crusade in medieval phrases denoting time 
1147, so that it need not be taken of life — Henry, for example, is 
into account in dating the Drag- addressed as "vir optime atgue 
maticon. liberalis" in the preface of the 

*R. L. Poole, in EHR (1920) collection of ethical maxims which 

p. 334. William made for him before he 

* R. L. Poole (1884), p. 348, was seventeen, — it seems to me 
(1920) p. 299, concluded from this, that there is no sufficient reason 
"The dialogue was written there- for fixing on 1145 as the date of 
fore some time, probably some the Dragmaticon. 

years, before Henry was of an age ° Printed in Migne, PL 171, 1007- 

to be knighted, in 1149; and we 56, among the works of Hildebert 

shall certainly not be far wrong if of Le Mans. William's author- 

we place it about the year 1145." ship was determined by Haureau, 

As, however, Henry was knighted Notices et Extraits, XXXIH, i, 

when only about sixteen, and as 257-63. 
the remark "quos . . . studio 


Fontaines,^ a thirteenth century chronicler, states that he 
had attained a great reputation. He might well have lived 
on for some time after that date, since his former associate, 
Richard Bishop, was archdeacon of Coutances at the time 
John of Salisbury wrote the Metalogicus in 1159, and sur- 
vived to become bishop of Avranches in 1171, dying only 
in 1 182. One infers, however, from John's account that 
WilHam was no longer living in 11 59. 

Early life. We may next look back upon the earlier events of 

William's life. In the Dragmaticon he speaks of having 
been previously engaged in teaching "for twenty years and 
more than that." Still earlier he had been a student, pre- 
sumably under Bernard of Chartres, in which town it is 
possible that much of his own teaching was done. John 
of Salisbury, however, simply says of his studies with 
William, "Straightway I betook me to the grammarian of 
Conches," while in another passage he mentions "my 
teachers in grammar, William of Conches and Richard, sur- 
named Bishop, now an archdeacon at Coutances." Al- 
though this passage might seem to suggest that William 
taught at Conches, no one so far as I know has ever enter- 
tained that supposition, and the chief dispute has been 
whether he taught at Chartres or at Paris. ^ But that he 
was born at Conches no one doubts, and he himself once 
speaks somewhat satirically of his Norman dulness com- 
pared to the lightning intelligences of some of his con- 

Writings. The Dragmaticon was a revision of a work on phi- 

losophy or natural philosophy composed in William's 
"younger days." ^ He also appears to have commented 
upon Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy,^ and to have 

* Bouquet, Recueil, XIII, 703D. example of a vague chronological 

*R. L. Poole, in EHR (1920) phrase. 
p. 334, decides in favor of ° Charles Jourdain, Des Com- 

Chartres. mentaircs incdits dc Guillaume de 

' Cited from the Dragmaticon Conches ct dc Nicolas Triveth sur 

by Poole (1884) pp. 348-9, (1920) la Consolation de la Philosophie, 

300. Paris, 1861. 

*/» iuventute nostra, another 


written a gloss on the Timaeus ^ in which among other 
things he dilates upon the perfection of certain numbers. 
But our discussion will be almost exclusively concerned with 
his much more influential Philosophia and its revised ver- 
sion, Dragmaticon. We shall first examine the original 

The original treatise touches on the fields of philosophy Philo- 
and astronomy in a simple and elementary way, but with general 
considerable skill, if not originality, in the selection and character, 
presentation of its subject-matter. William does not seem 
acquainted with Arabic science except that he has read 
Constantinus Africanus and from him derived the same 
doctrine that the four elements are never found in a pure 
state which we met in Adelard of Bath. William gives us 
a Platonic interpretation of nature, in which nevertheless 
he does not adhere at all closely to the Timaeus, interspersed 
with not infrequent quotation from or reference to as- 
tronomical works, classical literature, and the Bible and 
church fathers. Indeed, he is always careful to allow for 
divine influence in nature and for the statements of Scrip- 
ture, and to show that his theories do not contradict either. 
In such passages his language is always reverent, and he 
not infrequently alludes respectfully to what the saints have 
to say (sancti diciint) on the theme in hand. The body 
of the treatise opens with definition of philosophy and state- 
ment of its method of inquiry, after which the author argues 
that the world was made by God and discusses the Trinity 
at some length. He then discusses the topics of world-soul, 
demons, and elements; next passes to various matters as- 
tronomical and astrological concerning the sky and stars; 
and finally treats of our lower world and of man. 

The work also contains, especially in the prefaces to Contem- 
its different books but also in other passages, a number of gj'^^^f- 
interesting allusions to contemporary learning and educa- 

^ Printed in part as by Hon- ' My references will be to the 

orius of Autun in Cousin, Ouv- editio princeps of Basel, 1531, 

rages incdits d'Abelard, Appen- which is, however, not particularly 

dix, p. 648, et seq. accurate. 


tion. William frequently refers to the existence of other 
scholars and furthermore makes it evident that this learned 
society is not in its earliest stage. Its paradise period is 
over; the evil has entered in among the good; the enemy 
has sown tares amid the wheat. Education has become too 
popular, and already the insincere and the incapable, the 
charlatan and the unthinking m^ob, are cheapening and de- 
grading the ideals of the true philosopher. William speaks 
of "many who usurp the name of teacher," ^ and of "cer- 
tain men who have never read the works either of Con- 
stantinus or of any other philosopher, who out of pride 
disdain to learn from anyone, who from arrogance invent 
what they do not know," ^ and who actually insist that the 
four qualities, hot, cold, moist, and dry, are elements. In 
another passage William says, "Although we are aware 
that many strive for an ornate style, few for accuracy of 
statement, yet rejoicing not in the many but in the probity 
of the few, we toil for truth alone." ^ These are not all of 
William's complaints. Back in the world of feudalism, 
crusades, and Holy Roman Empire which seems to many so 
foreign, distant, and incomprehensible, he voices grievances 
which are still those of the college or university professor 
of to-day. The teacher is so occupied with classes that he 
has little time for research and publication ; * the vulgar 
crowd has stolen philosophy's clothing and left the essential 
body of truth naked and vainly crying for covering, — a 
figure borrowed from TJie Consolation of Philosophy of 
Boethius without express acknowledgment,^' but perhaps the 
allusion was so familiar as not to require one; the truly 
learned are in danger of the bite of envy; most teachers are 
catering to their pupils and giving "snap courses" in order 
to gain popularity; the elective system is a failure, since 
the students, in the words of the Apostle, "after their own 

'Edition of 1531, p. i. consolationc philosophiac, I, i, 21- 

' [bid., p. 14. 3 and I, iii, 19-28. It will be re- 

^Ibid.. pp. 27-8. called that William wrote a com- 

* Ibid., p. 51. mentary on Boethius' work. 

* The parallel passages are: De 


lusts heap to themselves teachers having itching ears"; 
academic freedom has become a thing of the past now that 
masters are become flatterers of their students and students 
judges of their masters, while "if there is anyone who does 
maintain a magisterial air, he is shunned as if insane by 
the meretricious scholars and is called cruel and inhuman." ^ 
All which agrees perfectly with John of Salisbury's state- 
ment why William had ceased teaching. 

William does not mention magic in his treatise, but the Good 
fact that he does not condemn all demons indifferently is demons, 
perhaps worth noting as a departure from the usual patristic 
view and as offering opportunity for an innocent variety of 
necromancy. William, who attributes his classification to 
Plato, distinguishes three sorts of demons. The first class, 
existent in the ether betwixt firmament and moon, are ra- 
tional, immortal, ethereal animals, invisible and impassive, 
whose function is blissful contemplation of the divine sun. 
The second class, who dwell in the upper atmosphere near 
the moon, are rational, immortal, aerial animals. They 
communicate the prayers of men to God and the will of 
God to men, either in person or through signs or dreams 
and "by the closest aspiration of vocal warning." They 
are capable of feeling, and, devoting themselves to good 
men, rejoice in their prosperity and suffer with them in 
their adversity. Both of these first two classes of demons 
are good, — kalodaemones. But the third class, who inhabit 
the humid atmosphere near the earth and are rational, im- 
mortal, watery animals, and capable of feeling, are in every 
way evil, — kakodaemones. They are lustful, cohabit with 
women, and envy and plot against mankind, for men, al- 
though fallen from grace like these demons, can recover their 
lost estate as the demons cannot.^ 

William offers a rather novel and unusual explanation Astron- 
of the difference in meaning between the terms "astronomy" a^r^o^ogy. 
and "astrology," stating that authorities on the subject 
speak of the superior bodies in three ways, the fabulous, the 

*Ed. of 1531, p. 65. *Ibid., pp. 9-10. 


astrological, and the astronomical. The method by fable is 
that employed by Aratus, Memroth (Nimrod the astrono- 
mer?), and Hyginus ("Eginus"), who interpret the Greek 
myths in an astronomical sense. Hipparchus and Martianus 
Capella are representatives of the astrological method, which 
treats of phenomena as they appear to exist in the heavens, 
whether they are really so or not. Astronomy, on the 
contrary, deals with things as they are, whether they seem 
to be so or not. Exactly what he has in mind by this dis- 
tinction William fails to make any clearer as he proceeds, 
but from the fact that he lists Julius Firmicus and Ptolemy 
as instances of the astronomical method it would appear 
that he included part at least of what we should call astrology 
under "astronomy." William cites yet other astronomical 
authorities, advising anyone wishing to learn about the 
Milky Way to read Macrobius, and for an explanation of 
the signs of the zodiac to consult Helpericus (of Auxerre), 
the ninth century compiler of a Computus which occurs with 
fair frequency in the manuscripts.^ 
Extent William represents "Plato, most learned of all philoso- 

■ n phers," as saying: that God the Creator entrusted the task 

inuuence r > y & 

of the of forming the human body to the stars and spirits which 

He had first created, but reserved to Himself the making 
of the human soul.^ This Christian interpretation or rather 
perversion of Plato's doctrine in the Timaeiis is charac- 
teristic. William accepts to the full the control of the 
stars over nature and the human body, but stops there. Like 
Adelard he states that the stars are composed of the same 
four elements as earthly objects. The predominance in 
their composition of the superior elements, fire and air, 
accounts for their motion. Their motion heats the atmos- 
phere which in turn heats the element water, which is the 
fundamental constituent in the various species of animals, 
which further differ according to the admixture in them of 
the other elements. Of the superior elements the birds of the 
air have the most, and fish next. Of land animals choleric 
* Ed. of 1531, pp. 30-32. ' Ibid., preface. 



ones, like the lion, possess most fire; phlegmatic ones, like 
pigs, most water; and melancholic ones, like the cow and 
ass, most earth. The human body is composed of an un- 
usual harmony of the four elements, to which Scripture 
alludes in saying that "God formed man of the dust of the 
earth." ^ William also lists the natural qualities and 
humors of each planet and its consequent influence for 
good or evil. He believes that the ancient astrologi dis- 
covered that Saturn is a cold star by repeatedly observing 
that in those years when the Sun in Cancer burned the earth 
less than usual, Saturn was invariably in conjunction with 
it in the same sign. How Saturn comes to exert this chill- 
ing influence William is less certain. He has already denied 
the existence of the congealed waters above the firmament, 
so that he cannot accept the theory that Saturn is cold be- 
cause of its proximity to them. He can only suggest that 
its great distance from us perhaps explains why it heats less 
than the other planets.- The good and evil influences of 
the planets also come out in the astrological interpretation 
of myth and fable. Thus Saturn is said to carry a scythe 
because one who carries a scythe does more execution in 
receding than in advancing. Jupiter is said in the fables 
to have ousted his father Saturn because the approach of 
the planet Jupiter increases the evil influence of Saturn. 
Jupiter is said to have begotten divers children in adultery 
because the conjunctions of that planet produce varied 
effects upon earth ; and Venus is said to have had adulterous 
intercourse with Mars because the propinquity of the planet 
Venus to the planet Mars renders the former less benevo- 
lent. Mars is god of battle because the planet of that name 
produces heat and drought which in their turn engender 
animosity.^ As the tides follow the phases of the moon, 
so, William believes, a universal flood or conflagration may 
be produced by the simultaneous elevation or depression of 

^ Ed. of 153 1, pp. 24-25, ". . . terrae." 
et hoc est quod divina pagina dicit " Ibid., p. 34. 

deum f ecisse hominem de limo ' Ibid., pp. 36-7. 






all the planets.^ But he accepts comets as special signs 
of the future caused by the Creator's will instead of at- 
tempting to give a natural explanation of the events which 
follow them.^ This is perhaps because of their signifying 
human events. Thunder and lightning are discussed without 
mention of divination from them.^ 

Thus far we have heard William cite authorities rather 
than spurn them as Adelard did. He could, however, be 
independent enough on occasion. He went so far as to 
reject the Scriptural account of waters above the firmament, 
if that word were taken in its ordinary astronomical sense, 
as naturally impossible; he explained away the passage in 
Genesis by interpreting the firmament to mean the air, and 
the waters above it, the clouds.** Like Adelard, too, he sev- 
eral times feels it essential to justify his views against the 
possible criticism of an obscurantist religious party. Dis- 
cussing the Trinity, he insists that if anyone finds some- 
thing in his book which is not found elsewhere, it should 
not on that account be stigmatized as heresy but only if it 
can be shown to be against the Faith. ^ Thus he confirms 
Adelard's complaint that the present generation is prejudiced 
against any modern discoveries. William, by the way, also 
employs the word "modern." Again, in affirming the phys- 
ical impossibility of reconciling the elements fire and earth, 
he notes that someone may object that God could find a way. 
To this he replies that "we do not place a limit upon divine 
power, but we do say that of existing things none can do 
it, nor in the nature of things can there be anything that 
would suffice." * In a third passage his indignation is fanned 
to a white heat by those who say, "We do not know how 
this is, but we know that God can do it." "You poor fools," 
he retorts, "God can make a cow out of a tree, but has He 
ever done so? Therefore show some reason why a thing 
is so, or cease to hold that it is so." '^ Elsewhere he yet 

*Ed. of 1531, p- 64. 
' Ibid., p. 60. 
"Ibid., pp. 55-6. 
* Ibid., pp. 28-9. 

"Ibid., p. 7. 

* Ibid., p. 19. 

* Ibid., p. 29. 


further dilates upon the unreasonableness of the opponents 
of natural science, who are loath to have explained even 
the natural facts given in the Bible but prefer to accept them 
blindly, and who, "since they themselves are unacquainted 
with the forces of nature, in order that they may have all 
men as companions in their ignorance, wish them to in- 
vestigate nothing but to believe like rustics. We, on the 
contrary," continues William, "think that a reason should 
be sought in every case, if one can be found." ^ Thus he 
vigorously echoes Adelard's exhortation to give and take 
reason, and his retort to the nephew's suggestion that the 
growth of plants from earth can be explained only as a 
divine miracle. 

William, it turned out, was too original and bold in Letter of 
some of his assertions concerning the Trinity and kindred ^f s^^^"^ 
topics, which were not allowed to pass unchallenged. A Thierry 
letter to St. Bernard from William, abbot of St. Thierry,- Bernard, 
shows the attitude of William of Conches' opponents. The 
abbot first says, — with the assumption of superior serious- 
ness and dignity characteristic through all time of conserva- 
tives, bigots, and pompous persons subconsciously aware of 
their own stupidity — that anyone who knows William of 
Conches personally is aware of his levity and will not 
take his vanities too seriously, and that he is to be classed 
with Abelard in the presumptuousness of his opinions. The 
abbot then devotes most of his letter to an attack upon 
WilHam's discussion of the Trinity, taking umbrage at his 
discussing questions of faith at all, especially upon a philo- 
sophical basis, and at his distribution of the three faculties, 
power, will, and wisdom, among the Three Persons. The 
abbot more briefly objects to William's physical account of 
the creation of man, saying : "First he says that man's body 
was not made by God but by nature, and the soul was given 
him by God afterwards, and forsooth that the body was 

* Ed. of 1531, p. 26. erroribus Guillelmi de Conchis ad 

* Migne PL 180, 333-40, Guillel- sanctum Bcrnardum. 
mi abbatis S. Thcodorici De 



Extent of 
in the 

tion of 

made by spirits whom he calls demons and by the stars." 
This doctrine the abbot regards as on the one hand danger- 
ously close to the opinion "of certain stupid philosophers 
who say that there is nothing but matter and the material, 
and that there is no other God in the world than the con- 
course of the elements and the system of nature"; and on 
the other hand as manifestly Manichean, affirming that the 
human soul is created by a good God but the body by the 
prince of darkness. Finally the abbot complains that Wil- 
liam "stupidly and haughtily ridicules history of divine 
authority," and "interprets in a physical sense" the account 
of the creation of woman from one of Adam's ribs. 

The effect of this theological attack upon William of 
Conches can probably be discerned in the Dragmaticon. 
There he states that it is his purpose to include "many essen- 
tial points" which were not contained in the earlier treatise, 
and to omit those statements which he has since become 
convinced are erroneous. He then proceeds to list and ex- 
pressly condemn certain statements in the earlier work as 
contrary to the Catholic Faith, and he asks those readers 
who have copies of that treatise to make these corrections 
in it.^ He accordingly retracts his assertion that in the 
Trinity the Father represents power and the Holy Spirit 
will, since there is no direct scriptural authority for this 
view, but he still maintains that the Son is Wisdom on the 
authority of the Apostle. He takes back his interpretation 
of the words of the Prophet concerning Christ, "Who will 
tell his generation?" as indicating merely the difficulty and 
not the impossibility of solving that mystery. Finally he 
reverts to the letter of Scripture in regard to the creation 
of Eve. 

But this done, William becomes his old self again in the 
remainder of the Dragmaticon. In the role of the philoso- 

^ This was the impression that 
I received from the text in CLM 
2595 rather than that "His former 
work, therefore, he suppressed 
and begged everyone who pos- 

sessed the book to join him in 
condemning and destroying it" ; — 
R. L. Poole (1884) p. 130, (1920) 
p. no. 


pher he argues at length with the duke whether Plato's five 
circles of the sky and division of spirits into kalodae- 
moncs and kakodaemones is in agreement with the Christian 
Faith. Later on, when the duke cites Bede against him in 
regard to some astronomical point, he replies that in a pure 
matter of faith he would feel obliged to accept Bede's au- 
thority, but that on a point of philosophy he feels perfectly 
at Hberty to disagree with him. This declaration of scien- 
tific independence from patristic authority became a locus 
classicus cited with approval by several writers of the next 
century. Presently to our surprise we find William boldly 
inquiring at what time of year the six days of creation oc- 
curred. He also indulges as before in somewhat bitter re- 
flections upon the learned world of his day. 

William, therefore, has had to withdraw some theo- No denial 
logical opinions for which he could not show authority in 
Scripture, and some other opinions wherein he disregarded 
the literal meaning of the Bible. But except that he has 
to agree to the miraculous account of the creation of the 
first woman, he does not seem to have altered his views 
concerning nature and philosophy, nor to have given up in 
any way his scientific attitude or his astrological theories. 
The theologians have forced him to conform in respect to 
theology, but his retraction in that field takes the form of 
a second edition of his treatise and a reaffirmation of his 
astronomical and philosophical views. As Haureau well 
says, "He always believes in science, he still defends in the 
name of science, in the accents, and by the method of the 
scholar, everything in his former writings that has not been 
condemned in the name of the Faith. . . . So it is no de- 
nial of philosophy that has been won by the outcries of 
William of St. Thierry and Walter of St. Victor; ^ those at- 
tacks have resulted in merely intimidating the theologian." ^ 

* Walter, in an attack upon the (1884) pp. 349-50, (1920) pp. 

views of Abelard, Gilbert de la 300-1. 

Porree, and others, unjustly ac- ^'Q. Yiaur^Sin, Histoire de la phi- 

cused William of holding the losophic scolastique, ed. of 1872, 

Epicurean atomic theory; Poole I, 445. 


William's Siich attacks, moreover, had little or no success in lessen- 

influence ^^g" William's ultimate future influence. How utterly they 
failed to intimidate astrologers may be inferred from the 
much greater lengths to which William's contemporary, 
Bernard Silvester, went without apparently getting into any 
trouble, and from the half-hearted arguments against the 
art of John of Salisbury a little later in the century. As 
Doctor Poole has already pointed out, even the Philosophia, 
which William of St. Thierry censured and which William 
of Conches himself modified, survived in its original and 
unexpurgated version "to be printed in three several editions 
as the production of the venerable Bede, of saint Anselm's 
friend, William of Hirschau, and of Honorius of Autun ; 
the taint of heresy plainly cannot have been long perceptible 
to medieval librarians." ^ Also the revised edition, or 
Dragniaticon, "enjoyed a remarkable popularity, and a wide 
diffusion attested by a multitude of manuscripts at Vienna, 
Munich, Paris, Oxford, and other places." - We shall find 
William's book much used and cited by the learned writers 
of the following centur}', and a number of copies of it are 
listed in the fifteenth century catalogue of the library of St. 
Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury. If then from the contem- 
porary and passing world of talk William retired disgusted 
and discomfited to the shelter of ducal patronage, in the 
enduring world of thought and letters he carved for him- 
self a lasting niche by his comparative intellectual courage, 
originality, and thoroughness. 

*R. L. Poole (1884) p. 130, (1920) p. III. 
'Ibid., p. 131, (1920) p. III. 





Although, as the ensuing bibliography will make appar- 
ent, a variety of titles have been at one time or another ap- 
plied to the two versions of the work in question, we shall 
refer to the original version as Philosophia and the revision 
as Dragmaticon, which appear to be both the handiest and 
the most correct appellations, although personally I should 
prefer Dranmticus for the latter. The two works may per- 
haps be most readily distinguished by their Incipits, which 
are, for Philosophia, "Quoniam ut ait TuUius in prologo 
rhetoricorum, Eloquentia sine sapientia . . .", and for 
Dragmaticon, "Quaeris, venerande dux Normannorum et 
comes Andagavensium, cur magistris nostri temporis minus 
creditur quam antiquis. . . ." The titles and the number 
of books into which the work is divided differ a good deal 
in different editions and manuscripts, and the catalogues of 
manuscript collections sometimes do not identify the author. 

First as to printed editions. Philosophia has been 
printed three times as the work of three other authors. 

Philosophicarum et astronomicarum institutionum Guilelmi Hirsau- 

giensis oHm abbatis libri tres, Basel, 1531. 
Bede, Opera, 1563, 11, 311-43, Ilepi AiSd^eoJv, sive Elementorum 

Philosophiae Libri IV. 
Honorius of Autun, De philosophia mundi, Migne, PL vol. 172. 

Dragmaticon seems to be have been printed but once under 
the title, 

Dialogus de substantiis physicis confectus a Guillelmo aneponymo 
philosopho, Strasburg, 1567. 



In the following list of MSS, which is no doubt far 
from complete, I have attempted to distinguish between 
the Philosophia and Dragrnaticon but have often had to rely 
only upon the notices in catalogues which frequently do 
not give the opening words or other distinguishing marks. 
The following MS seems unusual in apparently containing 
both versions, if by "eiusdem philosophia secunda" is indi- 
cated the Dragmaticon. 

CLM 564, I2th century, with figures, fol. i-, Willelmi de Conchis 
philosophiae libri IV, fol. 32-, eiusdem philosophia secunda. 

MSS of the Pkilosophia 

Egerton 935, 12th century, small quarto, Phylosophia Magistri 
Willihelmi de Conchis, cum figuris. 

Egerton 1984, 13th century, fols. 2-33. 

Royal 9-A-XIV, 14th century, fols. 245-65, Physicorum libri 4. 

Royal 13-A-XIV, $7, "Quoniam ut ait Tullius. . . ." 

Additional 11676, 13th century, anon, de philosophia naturali, in 
three parts. 

Additional 26770, I3-I4th century. 

Digby 104, 13th century, fol. 176-, De dementis philosophiae 

University College 6, 14th century, p. 389, Philosophiae compen- 
dium, "Quoniam ut ait Tullius. . . ." 

Bodleian (Bernard) 2596, Jfio, in four parts; 3623, S30, fol. 187V-; 
4056, Ji. 

BN 6656, 14th century, Philosophia, in four parts; 15025; 13th cen- 
tury; 16207, 13th century, fol. 58-. 

Ste. Genevieve 2200, anno 1277, fols. 1-47, with colored figures, 
"Quoniam ut ait Tullius. . . ." 

Vienna 2376, 12th century, fols. 32V-64V, "Incipit prologus in 
phylosophyam Willehelmi. Quoniam ut ait Tullius. . . ." 

Amplon. Octavo 85, 13th century; Octavo 87, mid 12th century! 

CLM 2594, 13th century, fol. 24, Compendium philosophie de 
naturis corporum celestium et terrenorum. Sunt libri IV. 

CLM 2655, late 13th century, fol. 106, "Summa de naturis videlicet 
totius philosophiae," in fine nonnulla desunt. 

CLM 14156, 15th century, fols. 1-18, Philosophia minor. 

CLM 14689, I2th century, fols. 85-7, Wilhelmi Hirsaugiensis dia- 
logus de astronomia, supersunt tria tantum folia. 


CLM 15407, 14th century, fols. 1-42, philosophia. 

CLM 16103, I2-I3th century, fols. 68-99, philosophia naturalis. 

CLM 1 89 1 8, 1 2th century, fols. 1-34, de philosophia. 

CLM 22292, I2-I3th century, fol. 40, "Quoniam ut ait TuUius. . . ." 

MSS of the Dragmaticon 

CLM 2595, 13th century, 43 fols. Dragmaticus. 

CLM 7770, 14th century, 56 fols. De secunda philosophia. 

Florence II, VI, 2, 13th century, fols. 50-65, "Queris venerande 
dux. . . ." 

Ashburnham (Florence) 98, 13th century, fols. 2-41. 

Bibl. Alex; (Rome) 102, I4-I7th century, fols. 112-209. 

Wolfenbiittel 4610, I2-I4th century, fols. 78-160V, Phisica Willen- 
dini, "Queris venerande dux. . . ." 

Berlin 921, 13th century. 

Vienna 5292, 15th century, fols. 105-57, "Veros {sic) Venerande 
dux. . . ." 

Vendome 189, 13th century, fols. 123-59. 

St. John's 178, early 13th century, fols. 266-360, anon., "Queris 
venerande dux. . . ," 

Corpus Christi 95, end I2-I3th century, fol. i, Universalis Philoso- 
phiae libri tres per modum dialogi inter Normannorum ducem 
et ipsum doctorem. 

Digby I, 14th century, fol. i, Dragmaticon. 

Digby 107, 14th century, Summa magistri Wilhelmi de Conches 
super naturalibus questionibus et responsionibus, "Queris vene- 
rande dux. . . ." The catalogue incorrectly speaks of it as a 
dialogue with Henry, duke of Normandy, afterwards Henry II 
of England. 

Bodleian (Bernard) 3565. 

Royal 4-A-XIII, #5, Philosophia naturalis, "Queris," etc. 

Royal 12-F-X, 13th century. 

Arundel 377, 13th century, fol. 104. 

Sloane 2424, 14th century. 

Additional 18210, I3-I4th century. 

Egerton 830, 15th century, Dialogus de philosophia inter Henricum 
II {sic) Normannorum ducem et ipsum auctorem. . . . 

BN 6415, 14th century; and 4694. 

Montpellier, ficole de Med. 145. 

Troyes 1342. 



importance of medieval translations — Plan of this chapter — Trans- 
mission of Arabic astrology — Walcher, prior of Malvern — Pedro Al- 
fonso — His letter to the Peripatetics — Experimental method — Magic 
and scepticism in the Disciplina clericalis — John of Seville — Dates in his 
career — Further works by him, chiefly astrological — John's experimental 
astrology — Gundissalinus De divisione philosophiae — Place of magic in 
the classification of the sciences — Al-Farabi De ortu scientiarum — 
Gundissalinus on astrology — Robert Kilwardby De ortu sive divisione 
scientiarum — Plato of Tivoli — Robert of Chester — Hermann the Dal- 
matian — Hugh of Santalla — A contemporary memorial of Gerard of 
Cremona — Account by a pupil of his astrological teaching — Character 
of Gerard's translations — Science and religion in the preface to a 
translation of the Almagest from the Greek — Arabs and moderns — 
Astronomy at Marseilles — Appendix I. Some medieval Johns, men- 
tioned in the manuscripts, in the fields of natural and occult science, 
mathematics and medicine. 

tance of 

Already we have treated of a number of Arabic works 
of occult science which are extant in Latin translations, or 
have mentioned men, important in the history of medieval 
science like Constantinus Africanus or Adelard of Bath, 
whose works were either largely or partly translations. In 
future chapters we shall have occasion to mention other 
men and works of the same sort. We have already seen, 
too, that translations from the Greek were being made 
all through the early middle ages and in the tenth century; 
and we shall see this continue in the twelfth and thirteenth 
centuries especially in connection with Galen, Aristotle, and 
Ptolemy. We have also seen reasons for suspecting that 
the Latin versions of certain works were older than the 
so-called Greek originals, that works were sometimes trans- 
lated from Arabic into Greek as well as from Greek into 



Arabic, and that there probably never were any Arabic 
originals for some so-called translations from the Arabic 
which are extant only in Latin, All this is not yet to men- 
tion versions from Hebrew and Syriac or in French, Span- 
ish, and Anglo-Saxon. We have seen also in general how 
important and influential in the history of medieval learning 
was the work of the translator, and yet how complicated 
and difficult to follow. Many names of translators are 
mentioned in the medieval manuscripts : some, for instance, 
who will not be treated of in the present chapter are : from 
the Greek, Aristippus of Sicily, Bartholomew of Messina, 
Burgundio of Pisa, Eugenius admiral of Sicily, Grumerus 
of Piacenza, Nicolaus of Reggio, Stephen of Messina, and 
William of Moerbeke; from the Arabic, Egidius de Te- 
baldis of Parma, Arnold of Barcelona, Blasius Armegandus 
or Ermengardus of MontpeUier, Marcus of Toledo, the 
canon Salio of Padua, John Lodoycus Tetrapharmacus, 
Philip of Spain, Philip of Tripoli, Roger of Parma, Fer- 
ragius, and so on. But not all such names of translators 
can be correctly placed and dated, and many translations 
remain anonymous in the manuscripts. Into this vast and 
difficult field Jourdain's work on the medieval translations 
of Aristotle made but an entrance, and that one which now 
needs amendment, and even such extensive bibliographical 
investigations as those of Steinschneider have only made 
rough charts of portions. Some detailed monographs on 
single translators ^ and the Hke topics have been written, but 
many more will be required before we shall have a satis- 
factory general orientation. 

The subject of medieval translations as a whole of Plan 
course in any case lies in large part beyond the scope of our Chapter, 
investigation and would lead us into other literary and 
learned fields not bearing upon experimental science and 
magic. In the present chapter we shall further limit our- 

* Especially by Professor C. H. has other studies in preparation 
Haskins, who has corrected or in addition to those to be men- 
supplemented Steinschneider and tioned in ensuing footnotes of 
others on various points, and who this chapter- 



sion of 

selves to some translators of the twelfth century who chiefly 
translated works of astrology from the Arabic and who, 
although they themselves often came from other lands, were 
especially active in Spain. One or two men will be intro- 
duced who do not possess all these qualifications, but who 
are related to the other men and works included in the 

Throughout the twelfth century from its first years to 
its close may be traced the transit of learning from the 
Arabic world, and more particularly from the Spanish 
peninsula, to northwestern Europe. Three points may be 
made concerning this transmission : it involves Latin trans- 
lation from the Arabic; the matter translated is largely 
mathematical, or more especially astronomical and astro- 
logical in character; finally, it is often experimental. 

On the very threshold of the twelfth century, in addi- 
tion to Adelard of Bath to whom we have given a separate 
chapter, we meet with another Englishman, Walcher, prior 
of Malvern, whom we find associated with Peter Alphonso 
or Pedro Alfonso, who apparently was a converted Spanish 
Jew. Walcher's experimental observations would seem to 
have antedated his association with Pedro, since a chapter 
headed, "Of the writer's experience," ^ in lunar tables which 
he composed between 1107 and 11 12, tells of an ecHpse 
which he saw in Italy in 1091 but could not observe exactly 
because he had no clock {horologium) at hand to measure 
the time, and of another in the succeeding year after his 
return to England which he was able to observe more scien- 
tifically with the aid of an astrolabe. In 1120 Walcher 
translated into Latin, at least according to the testimony of 
the manuscripts, an astronomical work by Pedro Alfonso 
on the Dragon.^ Pedro perhaps wrote the original in 

* The passage is reproduced by 
C. H. Haskins, "The Reception 
of Arabic Science in England," 
EHR 30, 57, from Bodleian Auct. 
F-i-9 (Bernard 4137), fols. 86-99. 

'In the MS mentioned in the 
Dreceding note, "Sententia Petri 

Ebrei cognomento Anphus de 
dracone quam dominus Walcerus 
prior Malvernensis ecclesie in 
latinam transtulit linguam ;" Has- 
kins, Ibid., p. 58. I also note in 
Schum's Verscichniss, Amplon, 
Quarto 351, 14th century, fols. 


Hebrew or Spanish or translated it from the Arabic into 
one of those languages, but we also know of his writing 
in Latin himself. 

This Pedro Alfonso seems to have been the same ^ who Pedro 
in 1 106 in his forty-fourth year was baptized at Huesca °"^°' 
with the name of his godfather, King Alfonso I of Aragon, 
and who wrote the Disci plina clericalis and Dialogi cum 
ludeo. Indeed we find the Disciplina clericalis and De 
dracone ascribed to him in the same manuscript.^ In an- 
other manuscript chronological and astronomical tables are 
found under his name and the accompanying explanatory 
text opens, "Said Pedro Alfonso, servant of Jesus Christ 
and translator of this book." ^ This expression is very 
similar, as Haskins has pointed out, to a heading in a 
manuscript of the Disciplina clericalis, "Said Pedro Alfonso, 
servant of Christ Jesus, physician of Henry the first {sic) 
king of the Angles, composer of this book." * The experi- 
mental pretensions and astrological leanings of the astro- 
nomical treatise are suggested by Pedro's statement that the 

15-23, the De dracone of Petrus at Toledo: — "et iste tractatus 
Alphonsus with a table, translated translatus fuit a nmgistro Alfon- 
into Latin by "Walter Millvernen- sio Dionysii de Ulixbona Hispano 
sis prior." After two intervening apud Valient Toleti, interprete 
tracts concerning the astrolabe by magistro Alfonso converse, sac- 
another author the same MS con- rista Toletano." The treatise is 
tains "Alfoncius," De disciplina followed at fol. 194V by a "Nar- 
clericali. ration concerning Averroes and 
^ But not the same apparently the Saracen king of Cordova," 
as an Alfonsus of Toledo, to which opens, "This is worth 
whom Steinschneider (1905) p. 4, knowing which was told me by 
has called attention, and who Alfonso, a trustworthy Jew, phy- 
translated a work by Averroes sician of the king of Castile." 
(1126-1198) preserved in Digby ^Amplon. Quarto 351, as noted 
236, 14th century, fol. 190. Its in note 2 on the preceding page, 
prologue speaks of an abridge- ^ Corpus Christi 283, late 12th 
ment of the Almagest by Aver- century, fols. 113-44, "Dixit Petrus 
roes which Alfoi^so the Great Anfulsus servus Ihesu Christi 
(presumably Alfonso X or the translatorque huius libri . . .", 
Wise of Castile, 1252-1284) had quoted by Haskins, EHR 30, 60. 
had translated and which was in * CU li, vi, 11, fol. 95. "Dixit 
circulation in Spain and at Bo- Petrus Amphulsus servus Christi 
logna. From the Explicit of the Ihesu Henrici primi regis Anglo- 
same treatise one would infer that rum medicus compositor huius 
two Alfonsos were engaged in its libri"; quoted by Haskins, Ibid., 
translation, one a son of Diony- 61. Pedro would hardly have 
sius of Lisbon, and the other a called Henry "first", so the head- 
convert, who became a sacristan ing is perhaps not entirely genuine. 



science of the stars divides into three parts, marvelous in 
reasoning, notable in the signification of events, and ap- 
proved in experience ; and that the third part is the science 
of the nature of the spheres and stars, and their significa- 
tions in earthly affairs which happen from the virtue of 
their nature and the diversity of their movements, things 
known by experiment. 

In a manuscript at the British Museum ^ I have read 
what seems to be a third astronomical treatise by Pedro 
Alfonso, differing both from the preceding and from the 
De dracone.^ We meet as before the expression, "Said 
Alfonso, servant of Jesus Christ and translator of this 
book," ^ and the emphasis upon experiment and astrology 
continues. It will be noted further that in this treatise, 
which takes the form of a letter to Peripatetics and those 
nourished by the milk of philosophy everywhere through 
France, Pedro is no longer connected with Englishmen, 
although this manuscript, too, is in an English library. 
After rehearsing the utility of grammar, dialectic, and 
arithmetic, Pedro finally comes to astronomy, an art with 
which "all of the Latins generally" are little acquainted, in 
which he himself has long been occupied, and a portion of 
which he presents to them as something rare and precious. 
It has come to his ears that some seekers after wisdom are 
preparing to traverse distant provinces and penetrate to 
remote regions in order to acquire fuller astronomical 
knowledge, and he proposes to save them from this in- 
convenience by bringing astronomy to them. Apparently, 
therefore, this letter to the Peripatetics and other students 
of philosophy is simply the advertisement of, or preface to, 

* Arundel 270, late 12th century, 
fols. 4OV-44V, Epistola de studio 
artium liberalium praecipue as- 
tronomiae ad peripateticos alios- 
que philosophicos ubique per 

* So far as I can judge from 
Professor Haskins' description of 
and brief excerpts from them ; he 
does not notice the Arundel MS. 

^ This occurs at f ol. 43r in the 
midst of the treatise ; at the be- 
ginning, in addressing the Peri- 
patetics and other philosophers 
and students throughout France, 
the writer calls himself, "Pctrtts 
Anidefimfus, servant of Jesus 
Christ, and their brother and fel- 
low student." 


a translation by Pedro of some astronomical or astrological 
work, presumably from the Arabic.^ It is accordingly 
mainly devoted to a justification of the thorough study of 
astronomy and astrology. Many persons, in Pedro's opin- 
ion, are simply too lazy to take the trouble to ground them- 
selves properly therein. Those who think they know all 
about the subject because they have read Macrobius and a 
few other authors are found wanting in a crisis, — a passage 
meant doubtless as a hit at those who base their knowledge 
of astronomy simply upon Latin authors. Pedro also 
alludes to those who have been accustomed to regard them- 
selves as teachers of astronomy and now hate to turn pupils 

The contrast which Pedro draws, however, is not so Experi- 
much between Latin and Arabic writings as it is between ^e[hod 
dependence upon a few past authorities and adoption of 
the experimental method. He argues that the principles 
of astronomy were discovered in the first place only through 
experimentation, and that today no one can understand 
the art fundamentally without actual observation and ex- 
perience. He believes that astrology as well as astronomy 
is proved by experience. "It has been proved therefore by 
experimental argument that we can truly affirm that the 
sun and moon and other planets exert their influences in 
earthly affairs." ^ Or, as he says in another passage, "And 
indeed many other innumerable things happen on earth in 
accordance with the courses of the stars, and pass un- 
noticed by the senses of most men, but are discovered and 
understood by the subtle acumen of learned men who are 
skilled in this art." ^ Pedro's letter further includes some 

^ See fol. 42V, "Ceterum in page he employs the same phrase 

nostro translationis inicio pro- again, '"Ostensum est quod eodem 

logum dictate curavimus de veri- experimentali argumento. . ." 

tate videlicet artis." * Fols. 44v-4Sr, "Multa quidem 

' Fol. 44V, "Probatum est ergo alia et innumerabilia iuxta syde- 

argumento experimentali quod re rum cursus in terra contingunt 

vera possumus affirmare solem et atque vulgarium sensus hominum 

lunam aliosque planetas in ter- non attingit, prudentium vero 

renis viras (sic) suas exercere." atque huius artis peritorum subtile 

A little further along on the same acumen penetrat et cognoscit." 


astrological medicine, interesting in connection with the 
statement in another manuscript that he was the physician 
of Henry I of England. In this context, too, he shows 
familiarity with the translations from the Arabic of Con- 
stantinus Africanus.^ 

Pedro's Disci'plina clericalis,^ although a collection of 
oriental tales rather than a work of natural science,^ con- 
tains one or two passages of interest to us. Asked by a 
disciple what the seven arts are, the master gives a list some- 
what different from the common Latin triviimi and quad- 
rizium, namely, logic, arithmetic, geometry, physics, music, 
and astronomy. As to the seventh there is some dispute, 
he says. Philosophers who believe in divination make 
necromancy the seventh ; other philosophers who do not 
believe in predictions substitute philosophy; while persons 
who are ignorant of philosophy affirm that grammar is one 
of the seven arts.^ Thus while Pedro retains all four arts 
of the qiiadriznum, he holds only to logic in the case of the 
trivium, omitting rhetoric entirely and tending to substitute 
physics and necromancy for it and grammar. This tendency 
away from belles-lettres to a curriculum made up of logic 
and philosophy, mathematical and natural science, also soon 
became characteristic of Latin learning, while the tendency 
to include necromancy as one of the liberal arts or natural 
sciences, although less successful, will be found in other 
writers who are to be considered in this chapter. In the 
passage just discussed the importance of the number seven 
also receives emphasis, as the master goes on to speak of 
other sevens than the arts. One is impressed also in read- 
ing the Disciplina clericcdis by a sceptical note concerning 

^ Fol. 41V, "sicut Constantinus in Bulletin, 1919. 

libro suo quem de lingua saracena ^ In the preface (Hulme's trans- 

transtulit in latinam testatur." lation, p. 13) Pedro says, "I have 

' The most recent edition of the composed this little book partly 

Latin text is A. Hilka and W. from the sayings and warnings of 

Soderhjelm, Petri Alfonsi Dis- the philosophers, partly from 

ciplina Clericalis, 191 1. An En- Arabic proverbs and admonitions 

glish version from a 15th cen- both in prose and verse, and part- 

tury MS in Worcester Cathedral ly from fables about animals and 

was edited by W. H. Hulme in birds." 

The Western Reserve University * Discip. cleric., I, 9. 


magic and the marvelous properties of natural objects, as 
in the tale of the thief who repeated a charm seven times 
and tried to take hold of a moonbeam, but as a result fell 
and was captured, and in the tale of the Churl and the Bird, 
who promised his captor, if released, to reveal three pieces 
of wisdom.^ The first was not to believe everyone. "This 
saide," in the quaint wording of the medieval EngHsh ver- 
sion, "the litel brid ascendid vpon the tree and with a 
sweete voice bigan to synge: 'Blessid be god that hath 
shit and closed the sight of thyn eyen and taken awey thi 
vvisdam, forwhi if thow haddest sought in the plites of myn 
entrailes thow shuldest have founde a jacinct the weight 
of an vnce.' " When the churl wept and beat his breast 
at this announcement of his lost opportunity, the bird 
again warned him not to be so credulous. "And how be- 
livistow that in me shuld be a jacynt the weight of an vnce, 
whan I and al my body is nat of somoche weight?" 

Apparently the chief and most voluminous translator of John of 
astrological works from Arabic into Latin in the twelfth Seville, 
century was John of Seville.^ Although he translated some 
other mathematical, medical, and philosophical treatises, the 
majority of his translations seem to have been astrological, 
and they remained in use during the later middle ages and 
many of them appeared in print in early editions. So many 
Johns ^ are mentioned in medieval manuscripts and even 
wrote in almost the same fields as John of Seville that it is 
not easy to distinguish his works. Jourdain identified him 
with a John Avendeath or Avendehut (Joannes ibn David) 
who worked with the archdeacon Gundissalinus under the 
patronage of Raymond, archbishop of Toledo from 1126 to 
1151.^ John of Seville was perhaps not the man who worked 
with Gundissalinus ^ but he certainly appears to have ad- 

^Discip. cleric, XVII, 48. * Jourdain (1819) pp. 113 et scq., 

^ The fullest list of his trans- 449. 

lations that I know of is in Stein- ^ A difficulty is that John of 

Schneider (1905) pp. 41-50. Seville's translations are usually de- 

^ See Appendix I at the close scribed as direct from the Arabic 

of this chapter for a list of some and nothing is said of Gundissali- 

of them. nus, whereas in the preface to 



dressed translations to Archbishop Raymond. Thus in 
speaking of Costa ben Luca's De dijferentia spiritus et ani- 
mae we saw that the manuscripts stated that it was trans- 
lated by John of Seville from Arabic into Latin for Arch- 
bishop Raymond of Toledo.^ John of Seville is further 
styled of Luna or Limia, in one manuscript as bishop of 
Luna,^ and also seems to be the same person as John of 
Toledo or of Spain. In one of the citations of the Specu- 
lum astronomiae of Albertus Magnus he is called "Joannes 
Ulgembus Hispalensis." ^ John Paulinus, who translated 
a collection of twelve experiments with snake-skin entitled 
Life-saver which he discovered when he "was in Alexan- 
dria, a city of the Egyptians," is in at least one manuscript 
of his translation identified with John of Spain.^ 
j)j^^gg Certain dates in the career of John of Seville may be 

inhis^ regarded as fairly well fixed. In the Arabic year 529, or 
1 135 A. D., he translated the Rudiments of Astronomy of 
Alfraganus (Ahmed b. Muh. b. Ketir el-Fargani, or Al- 
Fargani)^; in 1142 A. D. he compiled his own Epitome of 

Avicenna's De an'nna John Aven- Tyberiadis cum laude Dei et eius 
death tells the archbishop that he auxilio quem transtulit magister 
has translated it word for word Johannes Hispalensis atque Limen- 
from Arabic into Spanish, and sis de Arabico in Latinum." Like- 
that Dominicus Gundisalvus has wise in CU Clare College 15 (Kk. 
then rendered the vernacular into 4.2), c. 1280 A. D., fol. 64V. 
Latin: Steinschneider (1893) pp. "^ Spec, astron., cap. 2. 
981 and 380, note 2; J. Wood * Arundel 251, 14th century, fol. 
Brown (1897) p. 117; Karpinski 35V, "Cum ego Johannis hyspani- 
(1915) PP- 23-4. But perhaps cus. . . ." 

John learned Latin as time passed. Steinschneider (1905) p. 51, 
However, as far as I know, there lists "Johannes Pauli, oder Pau- 
ls no MS where John of Spain lini," as distinct from John of 
is definitely called John Aven- Spain. I shall treat of the Salus 
death or vice versa. vitac in a later chapter on "Ex- 

^ For example, S. Marco X-57, periments and Secrets of Galen, 

13th century, f ols. 278-83 ; Av- Rasis and Others : H. Chemical 

ranches 232, 13th century; BN and Magical." See below, chap- 

6296, 14th century, 5 15. ter 65, page 794. 

"Amplon. Quarto 365, 14th cen- "Printed in 1497, 1537, and 1546 

tury, fols. 100-19, Liber Haomar as Brevis ac perutilis compilatio 

de nativitatibus in astronomia ... or Rudimcnta astronomiae. Digby 

quem transtulit mag. lohannes 190, 13- 14th century, fol. 87, gives 

Hyspalensis et Lunensis epyscopus the Arabic year as 529, while its 

ex Arabico in Latinum. "Bishop" 1173 should obviously not be A. D. 

is omitted in Digby 194, 15th cen- but of the Spanish era. Corpus 

tury, fol. 127V, "Perfectus est Christi 224 gives the Arabic year 

liber universus Aomar Benigan as 528. and the era date has been 



the Art of Astrology or Quadripartite Work of Judg- 
ments of the Stars,^ consisting of Isagoge in astrologiam 
and four books of judgments. In 1153 A. D. he translated 
the Nativities of Albohali - (Yahya b. Galib, Abu Ali el- 
Chaiyat), if we accept the "John of Toledo" who is said to 
have translated that treatise as the same person as our John 
of Spain. ^ John of Spain is sometimes said to have died in 

altered to clxx. m. (1170), prob- 
ably from mclxxiii (1173), the 
initial 'm' dropping out. and the 
final 'iii' in consequence being mis- 
read by a copyist as 'm.' The 
same careless copyist has perhaps 
dropped an 'i' from the arabic 
year. In BN 6506 and 7377B, 
according to Jourdain (1819) pp. 
1 15-6, the Arabic year is 529, but 
the other 1070, a further error. 
I suppose this is the same treatise 
as the Liber in scientia astrorum 
et radicibus motuum cclestium or 
Theoria planetaruni et stellaniin 
of "El-Fargdni" which Sudhoff 
(1917) p. 27, following J. Brink- 
mann, Die apokryphen Gesund- 
heitsregeln des Aristoteles, 1914, 
says John of Toledo translated 
into Latin in 1134. 

^Epitome totius astrologiae 
conscripta a loanne Hispalensi 
Hispano astrologo celeberrimo 
ante annos quadringentos ac nunc 
primum in lucent edita. Cum 
praefatione loachimi Helleri Leu- 
copetraei contra astrologiae ad- 
uersarios. Noribergae in oMcina 
loannis Montani et Ulrici Neuber, 
Anno Domini M.D.XLVIH. The 
date 1 142 is given at fol. i8r and 
at the close, fol, 87V. 

Steinschneider (1905), p. 41, 
"im Jahre 1142 kompilierte er, 
nach arabischen Mustern, eine 
Epitome totius astrologiae, ed. 
1548, deren Teile {Isagoge und 
Quadripart.) mit besonderen 
Titeln vielleicht in einzelnen mss. 
zu erkennen waren." 

In the 14th century MSS, S. 
Marco XI-102, fols. 107-31, and 
XI-104, fols. 1-30, the title is 
"epitome artis astrologiae." Vi- 
enna 5442, 15th century, fols. 
I58r-79v, Opus quadripartitum de 

iudiciis astrorum, has the same 
Incipit, "Zodiacus dividitur in 
duodecim. . . ." See also Amplon. 
Octavo 84, 14th century, fols. i- 
37, and Quarto 377, 14th century, 
fols. 7-1 1, ludicia lohannis His- 
palensis, and BN 7321, 1448 A. D., 
fols. I22r-i54v, "Incipiunt ysagoge 
lohannis Hyspalensis cum parte 
astrologie iudiciali." 

" Laud. Misc. 594, I4-I5th cen- 
tury, fols. 94-106, Liber Albohali 
de nativitatibus translatus a Jo- 
hanne Toletano. "Perfectus est 
liber Nativitatis mense Julii anno 
ab Incarnatione Domini millesimo 
cliii cum laude Dei et ejus auxi- 

CU Clare College 15 (Kk. 4, 2), 
c. 1280 A. D., fols. 39-47, does not 
name the translator but gives the 
date as 1153, and the same MS, 
fols. 24-9, contains John of 
Seville's translations of a work on 
the astrolabe in 40 chapters, of 
treatises by Messahalla at fols. 
48-55, and Aomar at fols. 56-64. 

Royal 12-C-XVIII, 14th cen- 
tury, fols. 2-9V, ends incomplete, 
but a colophon added in another 
hand gives the date as 1152. 

The work was printed at Niirn- 
berg, 1546. 

There is a different translation 
of it, made by Plato of Tivoli in 
1 136 A. D., in Cotton Appendix 
VI, fol. 163-, Aubueli liber in 
judiciis nativitatum quem Plato 
Tiburtinus ex Arabico sumpsit 
Ao. Arabum 530 et alexandri 1447 
in civitate Barkelona. 

' Steinschneider ascribes the 
translation of Albohali to John 
of Spain ; the Catalogue of the 
Royal Manuscripts says that 
Johannes Toletanus is possibly the 
same as John of Spain, Sudhofif 



1 1 57, but Forster argued that the Tarasia, queen of Spain, 
to whom the medical portion of the pseudo-Aristoteh'an 
Secret of Secrets, translated by John of Spain, was dedi- 
cated, was not the queen of Portugal contemporary with 
Archbishop Raymond of Toledo, but queen of Leon from 
1 176 to 1 180; and in 1175 a monk of Mt. Tabor is called 
Johannes Hispanus.^ If a Vienna manuscript is correct in 
saying that a marvelous cure for a sore heel which it con- 
tains was sent to Pope Gregory by John of Spain, the pope 
meant must be Gregory VIII (1187).- There is of course 
no impossibility in the supposition that the literary career 
of John of Spain extended from the days of Archbishop 
Raymond to those of Gregory VIII or Queen Tarasia. Still 
there is some doubt whether all the works extant under the 
name John of Spain were composed by the same individual.^ 
Several books dealing with the science of judgments 
from the stars by John of Spain are included in the bibli- 
ography of deserving works of astrology in the Speculum 
Astronomiae of Albertus Magnus, but are perhaps simply 
sections of his Epitome ^ which, after discussing in the 

(1917). P- 17. identifies "Johann 
von Toledo (Hispanus, Avende- 

Perhaps, however, the John of 
Toledo to whom a treatise en- 
titled, De conservanda sanitate, is 
ascribed in two 14th century MSS 
at Paris, BN 6978, It i and 16222, 
fol. 76-; also Berlin 905, 15th cen- 
tury, f ol. 74- ; CU Gonville and 
Caius 95, isth century, fol. 283-; 
was not the same person. 

Rose, in the Berlin MSS cata- 
logue, identifies this last John of 
Toledo with a John David of 
Toledo who in 1322 joined with 
other astrologers in issuing a 
threatening circular letter predict- 
ing terrible events for the year 
1329. See Amplon. Quarto 371 for 
another such letter for the year 
1371, and Amplon. Octavo 79 for 
tables of conjunctions of the sun 
and moon for the years 1346-1365 
by a John of Toledo. 

^ R. Forster, De Aristotelis quae 

feruntur physiognomonicis recen- 
sendis, Killiae, 1882, pp. 26-27; J. 
Wood Brown (1897), 35; HL 
XXX, 369. 

^Vienna 5311, I4-I5th century, 
fol. 41V. 

^ A work that I have not before 
seen ascribed to him is, Perugia 
683, 15th century, fols. 393-6, "In- 
cipit summa magistri lohannis 
yspani super arborem de con- 

Steinschneider fails, I think, to 
note in his list of John's transla- 
tions an "introductio de cursu 
planetarum" (St. John's 188, late 
13th century, fol. 99v-) which he 
translated from Arabic into Latin 
at the request of two ".Angligena- 
rum, Gauconis scilicet et Willel- 

* However, the Incipits given 
by .Mbert do not agree very well 
with those of the sections of the 
Epitome in the printed text of 
1548. See chapter 42 for the re- 


Isagoge the natures of the signs and planets, takes up in 
turn the four main divisions of judicial astrology, namely; 
conjunctions and revolutions, nativities, interrogations, and 
elections. John seems to have translated several astrologi- 
cal treatises by Albumasar and Messahala (Ma-sa-allah), 
the treatise by Thebit ben Corat on astrological images of 
which we have already treated, that by Abenragel ('All b. 
abi'l-Rigal, abu'l-Hasan) on elections, and the Introduction 
to the Mystery of Judgments from the Stars by Alchabitius 
or Alcabitius ^ ('Abderaziz b. 'Otman el-Qabisi), which 
should not be confused with his own somewhat similar 
Ysagoge. Of other translations by John of Spain, such as 
a portion of the Secret of Secrets of the Pseudo-Aristotle, 
the twelve experiments with pulverized snake-skin, and 
Costa ben Luca's De differentia spiritus et animae, we treat 
elsewhere. He was perhaps also the author of a chiro- 

The experimental character of John's own handbook on John's ex- 
astrology is worth noting. In the main, it is true, he fol- astrology! 
lows the works of the philosophers and astrologers of the 
past, especially when he finds them in agreement.^ Besides 
constantly alluding to what astrologers in general or the 
ancients say on the point in question, he often cites of the 
Greeks Ptolemy and Dorotheus ("Dorothius") and Her- 
mes and Doronius, but probably through Arabic mediums. 
He also gives us the views of the masters of India, and dis- 
semblance between this printed ^ S. Marco XI-105, 14th cen- 
text and a treatise in MS ascribed tury, fols. 54-61, "Cyromancia est 
to Roger of Hereford. ars demonstrans mores et in- 

^ Arundel 268, I3-I4th century, clinationes naturales per signa 
fols. 7v-23r, Abdolaziz Arabis sensibilia manuum." Valentinelli 
libellus ad judicium astrorum comments, "Eadem fortasse cum 
introductorius qui dicitur Alka- chiromantia loannis Hispalensis 
bitius, interprete Johanne Hispa- quam inter codices manuscriptos 
lensi. loannis Francisci Lauredani To- 

S. Marco XI-104, 14th century, masinus refert." 
fols. 79-102, Alcabitii ad indicia ^Epitome, II, xx, "lam radicem 

astrorum interpretatum a lohanne nativitatis secundum philosopho- 
Hispalensi. rum dicta complevimus nee edi- 

BN 7321, 1448 A. D., fols. i-79r, dimus nisi ea in quibus sapientes 
Introductorium ad magisterium convenerunt et ex quibus experi- 
iudiciorum astrorum. mentum habetur." 








tinguishes as "more recent masters of this art" ^ the Arabic 
writers "Alchindus" and Messahala. The latter he seems to 
regard as an Indian or at least as skilful in their methods 
of judgment.^ But he also notes when his authorities are 
in disagreement ^ or points out that his own experience in 
many nativities contradicts their views,"* against which John's 
readers are warned when they find them in the books of 
judgments. Even Ptolemy is twice criticized on the basis 
of actual experiment.'' We see that John was not merely 
a translator or writer on astrology but an expert practitioner 
of the art. He supplements the divergent views of past 
authorities, or qualifies their consensus of opinion, by his 
own apparently rich experience as a practicing or experi- 
mental astrologer. Indeed, for him the theory and practice 
of the art, the paths of reason and experience, are so united 
that he not merely speaks of "this reasoning" or view as 
being "tested by experience," ^ but seems to employ the 
words ratio and experimcntum somewhat indiscriminately 
for astrological tenet or technique.'^ 

The chief known work of Gundissalinus, the archdeacon 
who was for a time perhaps associated with John of Spain 
in the labor of translation, is his De divisione philosophiae,^ 

^ Epitome, III, viii, "luniores 
huius artis magistri dicunt posse 
inveniri locum thesauri abscon- 
diti quod veteres discreti omise- 
runt. . . ." 

^ Ibid., "Messehala autem Indo- 
rum in iudiciis solertissimus 
dicit. ..." 

^ Epitome, III, xii, "... in 
quaestione autem quis victurus 
astrologi discordati sunt. . . ." 

* Epitome, II, x, "Sed expertum 
est in nativitatibus multis hoc 
abrogari etiam cum omnes rali- 
ones praedictae simul convenerint 
cuius rei meminimus ne in Hbris 
inveniendo fidem daremus." 

"The passage just quoted in the 
preceding note continues, "Porro 
Ptolemaeus (licit . . . sed experti 
sumus multoties hoc non recipi." 
See also the following chapter of 
the Epitome, II, xi. 

"Epitome, II, xxii, ". . . et est 
ratio experimentata haec. . . ." 

' See III, xii, where, after stat- 
ing the discordant views of as- 
trologers he says, "Hanc vero 
postremam rationem experimen- 
tis caeteris preponimus." 

" Ed. Ludwig Baur, in Bcitriige, 
IV, 2-2,, Miinster, 1903, pp. 1-144 
text ; pp. 145-408 '"Uiitersuchung." 
Another work by Gundissalinus 
on the immortality of the soul 
was published in the same series 
by G. F. von Hertling, 1897. 

Baur unfortunately failed to 
note the existence of the Dc 
divisione philosophiae in two 
13th century MSS at the British 
Museum in the Sloane collection, 
nor docs Scott's Index catalogue 
of the Sloane MSS mention Gun- 
dissalinus as their author. 

Sloane 2946, 13th century, fols. 



a treatise which owes much to the Turkoman Al-Farabi 

(Muh. b. Muh. b. Tarchan b. Uzlag, Abu Nasr, el-Farabi). 

If Baur is right in thinking that Gundissahnus made use of 

translations by Gerard of Cremona, 1114-1187, in the De 

divisione philosophiae,^ it would appear to be a later work 

than his translating for Archbishop Raymond, 11 30- 11 50, 

which perhaps began as early as 1133.^ 

In the classification and description of the sciences which Place of 

make up the bulk of the De divisione philosophiae Gundis- [he^lassi- 

salinus gives a certain place to the occult arts. At the be- fication 

r 1 1 1 • • 1 • , J of the 

gmnmg Of the book, it is true, the magic arts are not classed sciences. 

among useful things of the spirit like the virtues and true 

sciences (honestae scientiae). Neither, however, are they 

grouped with pride, avarice, and vain glory as harmful vices, 

but are merely classed along with worldly honors as van- 

209-16, "de philosophia . . . auc- 
tore Isaaco philosopho." But the 
Incipit, "Felix prior aetas qui 
(.quae) tot sapientes . . ." is that 
of Gundissalinus' treatise. The 
erroneous ascription to Isaac is 
probably owing to the fact that 
the treatise just preceding, at fols. 
205-208V, is a translation of a 
medical work by Isaac. This MS 
is mutilated towards the close so 
that the leaves containing our 
text have the upper right hand 
corner torn off, thus removing 
nearly one-sixth of the text. The 
colophon reads, "Explicit hoc 
opus a domino Gundissalini apud 
Tholetum editum, sdens (succe- 
dens?) de assignanda causa ex 
qua orte sunt scientie philosophic 
et ordo eorum et disciplina." 
Similarly in Baur's text the De 
divisione philosophiae at pp. 1-142 
is followed at pp. 142-44 by 
Alfarabi's "Epistola de assig- 
nanda causa ex qua orte sunt 
scientie philosophic et ordo earum 
in disciplina." 

Sloane 2461, late 13th century, 
fols. i-38r, contains the De 
divisione philosophiae under the 
caption, Compendium scientianim, 
without indication of the author. 
It also is immediately followed 

at fols. 38v-40r by De unitate, 
which Baur found in another MS 
at the close of Gundissalinus' De 
divisione philosophiae, and in a 
third MS before the above men- 
tioned letter of Alfarabi. 

A MS now lost is, Library of 
St. Augustine's Abbey, Canter- 
bury, 1175, Gundisalvus de ortu et 
divisione scientiarum. 

Cotton Vespasian B-X, fols. 24- 
27, Alpharabius de divisione om- 
nium scientiarum, is not the trea- 
tise of Gundissalinus, as I was at 
first inclined to suspect that it 
might turn out to be upon exam- 

Alfarabi's De scientiis was pub- 
lished in his Opera omnia by 
Camerarius at Paris in 1638 from 
a MS which the preface repre- 
sented as a recent discovery. 
Baur, p. viii, states that this text 
differs considerably from the 
Latin version by Gerard of Cre- 
mona, but that the borrowings of 
Gundissalinus from Alfarabi and 
the citations in Vincent of Beau- 
vais' Speculum doctrinale agree 
with this 1638 text rather than 
with Gerard's. 

'Baur (1903), p. 163. 

'Karpinski (1915), p. 23. 



De ortu 

ities.^ "Nigromancy according to physics," however, is later 
hsted as one of eight sub-divisions of natural science to- 
gether with alchemy, medicine, agriculture, navigation, the 
science of mirrors, and the sciences of images and of judg- 
ments.^ Gundissalinus was innocent, however, of any de- 
tailed knowledge of necromancy or indeed of any of the 
other sub-divisions except medicine. He explains that he 
has not yet advanced as far as these subjects in his studies.^ 
He is manifestly simply copying an Arabic classification, 
probably from Al-Farabi 's De ortu scientiarum, and one of 
which we find similar traces in other medieval Christian 

This little treatise on The Rise of the Sciences by Al- 
Farabi, although it occupies only a leaf or two in the manu- 
scripts and has only recently been printed,^ is a rather im- 
portant one to note, as other of its statements than its eight 
sub-divisions of natural science seem to be paralleled in 
medieval Latin writers. There seems, for instance, a re- 
semblance between its attitude towards the sciences and 
classification of them and that of Roger Bacon in the Opiis 
Maius.^ Al-Farabi believes in God the Creator, as his open- 
ing words show, and he regards "divine science" as the end 
and perfection of the other sciences; "and beyond it inves- 
tigation does not go, for it is itself the goal to which all 
inquiry tends." '^ At the same time Al-Farabi emphasizes 
the importance of natural science, adding its eight parts to 
the four divisions of the quadriiniim — arithmetic, geometry, 
astrology, and music, and saying, "Moreover, this last (i. e. 
natural) science is greater and broader than any of those 

* Baur, pp. 4-5. 
^ Baur, p. 20. 

* Baur, p. 89. 

* See Daniel Morley on the 
eight parts of astrology in chap- 
ter 42 below, p. 177. 

' I have read it in two MSS at 
Paris, where, however, the text 
seems faulty: BN 6298, 14th cen- 
tury, fols. i6or-i6iv, and BN 
14700, fols. 328V-330V. It opens, 
"Scias nihil esse nisi substantia 

et accidens et creatorem sub- 
stantie et accidentis in secula." 
Printed in Beitrage. xix. 

° For Bacon's views see below, 
chapter 61. 

'BN 6298, fol. 169V; BN 14700. 
fol. 330r. "Scientia divina que 
est finis scientiarum et perfectio 
earum. Et non restat post illam 
ulla inquisitio. Ipsa enim est finis 
ad quern tendit omnis inquisitio et 
in ea quiescit." 



sciences and disciplines (or, than any of those discipHnary 
sciences)." We need a science, he says in effect, which 
deals inclusively with changes in nature, showing how they 
are brought about and their causes and enabling us to repel 
their harmful action when we wish or to augment them, — 
a science of action and passion.^ This suggestion of ap- 
plied science and of a connection between it and magic also 
reminds one of Roger Bacon, as does Al-Farabi's statement 
later that the beginning of all sciences is the science of 

Both for Al-Farabi and Gundissalinus the sciences of 
images and judgments were undoubtedly astrological. Gun- 
dissalinus himself believes that the spiritual virtue of the 
celestial bodies is the efficient cause, ordained by the Cre- 
ator, of generation, corruption, and other natural operations 
in this corporeal world. He defines astrologia as we would 
astronomy, while he explains that astronomia is the science 
of answering questions from the position of the planets and 
signs. There are many such sciences, — geomancy, hydro- 
mancy, aeromancy, pyromancy, chiromancy, and augury; 
but astronomy is superior to the rest because it predicts what 
will befall upon earth from the dispositions of the heavenly 
bodies. Gundissalinus also repeats Isidore's distinction be- 
tween astronomia and astrologia, and between the natural 
and superstitious varieties of "astronomy." ^ 

At this point it may be well to note briefly a later work 
with a very similar title to that of Gundissalinus, namely, 
the De ortu sive dknsione scientiarum of Robert Kilwardby,^ 

* "Et imo opus erat (fuit) sci- 
entia que hoc totum ostendit sci- 
licet per quam veniremus ad huius- 
modi permutationis scientiam 
(perveniremus ad scientiam huius 
permutationis) qualiter fiat et que 
sint eius actiones nocentes (occa- 
siones et cause et quomodo posse- 
mus removere has occasiones no- 
centes) cum vellemus repellere et 
luomodo cum vellemus possemus 
eas augere. Hec igitur scientia 
fuit scientia de naturis que est 
scientia de actione et passione." 

The passages in parentheses are 
the variant readings in one of the 
two MSS. 

' For the passages cited in this 
paragraph see Baur, 6, 115, 119- 

•Baur, who lists MSS of the 
work at p. 368 and presents an 
analysis of it at pp. 369-75. gives 
the title as Dc ortu et divisione 
philosophiac, but the two 13th 
century MSS at Oxford, Balliol 
3 and Merton 261, seem to prefer 
the form which I have given. I 

linus on 


De ortu 
sive divisi- 
one scien- 



archbishop of Canterbury from 1272 to 1279. The work 
borrows a great deal from Isidore, Hugh of St. Victor, and 
GundissaHnus. One of its more original passages is that in 
which Kilwardby suggests an alteration in Hugh's division 
of the mechanical arts, omitting theatrical performances as 
more suited to Gentiles than Catholics, and arranging the 
mechanical arts in a trivium consisting of earth-culture, 
food-science, and medicine, and a qiiadrizniini made up of 
costuming, armor-making, architecture, and business- 
courses (mercatura) , after the analogy of the seven liberal 
arts.^ Kilwardby, as has been already noted elsewhere, re- 
peats Hugh's classification of the magic arts.- 
Plato of Next in importance to John of Spain as a translator of 

Arabic astrology in the first half of the twelfth century 
should probably be ranked Plato of Tivoli. They seem to 
have worked independently and sometimes to have made 
distinct translations of the same work, as in the case of the 
Nafizntics of Albohali and the Epistle of Messahala. On 
the whole, Plato's translations ^ would appear slightly to 
antedate John's. Haskins has shown, however, that the date 
1 1 16, hitherto assigned for Plato's translation of the Liber 
emhadoruin of Savasorda, should be 1145.^ But Plato's 
translation of Albohali is dated 1136, while John's was not 
made until 1153.^ In 1136 is also dated Plato's translation 
of the astrological work of Almansor in the form of one 
hundred and fifty or so brief aphorisms, judgments, propo- 
sitions, or capitula, which later appeared repeatedly in print. 
Two years later he turned the famous Qiiadripartitum of 
Ptolemy into Latin. His other translations include Albu- 
casis (Abu'l-Qasim Chalaf b. 'Abbas el-Zahrawi) on the 
astrolabe, Haly ('All b. Ridwan b. 'Ali b. Ga'far, Abu'l- 

have looked through the text in ^ Cap. 40. 

Balliol 3, a beautifully written ' Cap. 67. 

MS, but. in view of Kilwardby's ^Listed by Steinschneider 

date, scarcely of the early 13th (1905), pp. 62-6. 

century, as it is described in the * C. H. Haskins, in EHR 

catalogue. Haureau regarded the (191 1). 26, 491 note. 

work as clear, accurate, and ° See page 75 of this chapter, 

worth printing. note 2, 



Hasan) on nativities, and a geomancy. Most of Plato's 
translations were produced at Barcelona. 

In a manuscript at the British Museum ^ one of Plato of Robert of 
Tivoli's translations is immediately preceded in the same 
large clear hand, different from the smaller and later writ- 
ing employed in the remainder of the manuscript, by a trans- 
lation of the Judgments of the astrologer Alkindi by Robert 
of Chester,- with an introduction to "my Hermann," whom 
Robert commends highly as an astronomer. A letter written 
in 1 143 by Peter the Venerable to St. Bernard tells how in 
1 141 he had induced two "acute and well trained scholars," 
who were then residing in Spain near the river Ebro, to 
turn for a time from the arts of astrology which they had 
been studying there, and to translate the Koran. These 
two translators were the friends whom we have just men- 
tioned, Hermann of Dalmatia and Robert of Chester. Rob- 
ert, too, tells us in the prefatory letter to the translation of 
the Koran, completed in 1143, that this piece of work was 
"a digression from his principal studies of astronomy and 
geometry." Besides such; mathematical treatises as his 
translations of the Indicia of Alkindi, the Algebra of Al- 
Khowarizmi, a treatise on the astrolabe ascribed to Ptolemy, 
and several sets of astronomical tables, including a revision 
or rearrangement of Adelard of Bath's translation of the 
Tables of Al-Khowarizmi, Robert on February 11, 1144, 
translated a treatise on alchemy which Morienus Romanus, 
a monk of Jerusalem, was supposed to have written for 
"Calid, king of Egypt," or Prince Khalid ibn Jazid, a 
Mohammedan pretender and patron of learning at Alex- 
andria. Of it we shall treat more fully in another chapter. 
About 1 1 50 we seem to find Robert returned to his native 
England and writing at London.^ 

* Cotton, Appendix VI. C. H. Haskins, The Reception of 

* For the biography and bibliog- Arabic Science in England, EHR 
raphy of Robert of Chester see 30 (1915), 62-5; Steinschneider 
L. C. Karpinski, Robert of Ches- (1905), pp. 67-73. 
ter's Latin Translation of the * Karpinski (1915), pp. 26, 29- 
Algebra of Al-Khowarizmi, New 30. 
York, 1915, especially pp. 26-32; 



the Dal- 

Hermann the Dalmatian, or twelfth century translator, 
must be distinguished on the one hand from Hermann the 
Lame who wrote on the astrolabe,^ and apparently on the 
other hand from Hermann the German who translated Aver- 
roes and Aristotle in the thirteenth century.^ To the twelfth 
century translator we may ascribe such works as a treatise 
on rains,^ a brief glossary of Arabic astronomical terms,* 
and Latin versions of the Planisphere of Ptolemy,^ of the as- 
trological Fatidica of Zahel,® and of the Introduction to 

^ See above, chapter 30, I, 702-3. 
Besides the articles of Clerval 
and Haskins there mentioned we 
may note A. A. Bjornbo, Her- 
mannus Dalmata als Uebersetzef 
astronomischer Arbeiten, in Bibli- 
otheca Mathematica, VI (1903), 
third series, pp. 130-3. 

* Steinschneider (1905), pp. 32- 
5. He says, "Hermannus Ale- 
mannus, oder Teutonicus, Ger- 
manicus, soil um 1240-1260 
Lehrer des Roger Bacon in 
Toledo ( ?) gewesen sein," but I 
do not know where he gets the 
notion that Hermann was Roger's 
teacher. The following works 
ascribed to Hermannus Theutoni- 
cus by Denifle (1886), p. 231, — 
and not mentioned by Steinschnei- 
der — seem to indicate another 
person of that name: "(41) fr. 
Hermannus Theutonicus de Cer- 
wist (Zerbstl, scripsit postillam 
super caiitica ; (50) fr. Herman- 
nus Theutonicus scripsit librum 
de ascensu cordis. Item super 
Cantica. Item de arte precandi." 
In Vienna 2507, 13th century, fols. 
85-123, an Ars dictandi is at- 
tributed to "Magistri Heremanni." 

On the part taken by Herman- 
nus Alemannus in the translation 
of Aristotle in the thirteenth 
century see further Grabmann 
(1916), pp. 208-12, 217-22, etc., 
where translations of his are con- 
nected with the dates 1240 and 

^ Clare College 15 (Kk. 4. 2), 
c. 1280 A. D., fols. i-2r, Her- 
mannus, liber imbrium, "Cum 
multa et varia de imbrium cog- 
nicione preccpta Indorum tradat 

auctoritas .../... plerumque 
etiam imbres occurrunt set steri- 
les" lafar on rains immediately 

Vienna 2436, 14th century, fols. 
134V-136V, "Cum multa et varia 
.../... eciam ymbres occur- 
rant sed mediocres. Finitur Her- 
manni liber de ymbribus et plu- 

Dijon 1045, 15th century, fols. 
187-91 (following Hermann's 
translation of Albumasar), "de 
pluviis ab Hermano (de) Kanto 
(?) a judico in latinum trans- 
latus. Cum multa et varia de 
nubium cognicione .../... oc- 
currunt sed steriles." 

*In CUL 2022 (Kk. IV. 7), 
15th century, fol. 116, however, 
such a short glossary preceding 
prognostications of famine is said 
to be "secundum Hermannum 

"Printed Basel, 1536; and Ven- 
ice, 1558. J. L. Heiberg, Claudii 
Ptolcmaei Opera quae exstant 
omnia, II, pp. clxxxiii-vi ; Kar- 
pinski (1915), p. 32; Haskins 
(i9i5)» P- 62; Suter (1914), p. ix. 

' Or Sahl ben Bisr ben Hani, 
Abu 'Otman. Steinschneider 
(1905), p. 34, and (1906) pp. 54-5, 
ascribes the translation to Her- 
mann the Dalmatian ; see, too, 
CUL 2022, 15th century, fols. 
I02r-ii5v, pronostica Zahel Iben 
Bixir, Hermanni secundi trans- 
latio. But in Digby 114, 14th 
century, fols. 176-99, "Explicit 
fetidica Zael Benbinxeir Caldei. 
Translacio hec mam. Gi. astrono- 
mie libri anno Domini 1138, 3 
kal. Octobris translatus est." 



Astronomy in eight books of the noted Arabic astrologer 
Albumasar, a work often entitled Searching of the Heart or 
Of Things Occult} Hermann dedicated it to Robert of 
Chester, whom he also mentions in the preface of his trans- 
lation of the Planisphere," and in his chief work, the De 
essentiis, a cosmology which he finished at Beziers in the 
latter part of the same year 1143.^ 

Hugo Sanctelliensis or Hugh of Santalla ^ is another 
translator of the first half of the twelfth century in the 
Spanish peninsula who appears to have worked independently 
of the foregoing men, since he to some extent translated 
the same works, for instance, the Centiloquium ascribed to 
Ptolemy, Latin versions of which have also been credited to 
Plato of Tivoli and John of Seville. Hugh's translations 
are undated but at least some of them may have antedated 
those of the men already mentioned,^ since Haskins has 

* Printed at Augsburg in 1489 
and in other editions ; it opens, 
"Astronomic iudiciorum omnium 
bispertita est via. . . ." 

*Suter (1914), pp. xiii, xviii, 
interprets Hermann's words, 
"Quem locum a Ptolemaeo minus 
diligenter perspectum cum Alba- 
tene miratur et Alchoarismus, 
quorum hunc quidam opera nos- 
tra Latium habet, illius vero 
commodissima translatio Roberti 
mei industria Latinae orationis 
thesaurum accumulat," to mean 
that Robert translated Al-Battani, 
but in view of Robert's known 
translations of Al-Khowarizmi, I 
should translate htin-c as "former" 
in this case and regard Hermann 
as the translator of Al-Battani. 

' Professor Haskins wrote me 
on July 26, 1921, "The De essen- 
tiis is an interesting work of 
cosmology; when I am able to 
work it over more carefully I 
shall print the article on Her- 
mann, now long overdue." 

*The best treatment of Hugh 
is, C. H. Haskins, "The Transla- 
tions of Hugo Sanctelliensis," in 
The Romanic Review, II (1911), 
1-15, where attention is called to 
translations not noted by Stein- 

schneider, and the prefaces of 
seven extant translations are 

° I cannot, however, agree with 
Professor Haskins (p. 10), that 
"From certain phrases in the 
preface" (of Hugh's translation 
of the Liber Aristotilis de 25^ in- 
doruni voluminibiis) "it would 
seem that, while Hugo has been 
for some time a devotee of 
Arabian science, he has only re- 
cently (nunc) and comparatively 
late in the day (serus ac indignus 
minister) entered the bishop's 
service." It seems to me that the 
last phrase should read servus ac 
indignus minister, for Hugh had 
already translated at least one 
other work for the bishop before 
this one on the 255 books of the 
Indians, and in the present pref- 
ace he alludes to many previous 
discussions between them and to 
the bishop's continually exhorting 
him to publish, so that one would 
infer that they had been associ- 
ated for some time past. Since 
writing this I have learned both 
from Mr. H. H. E. Craster of the 
Bodleian and from Professor 
Haskins himself that the reading 
in the MS (Digby 159, fol. iv) is 

Hugh of 



identified Hugh's patron, "my lord, Bishop Michael," with 
the holder of the see of Tarazona from 1119 to 11 51. 
Hugh's nine known translations are concerned with works 
of astronomy, astrology, and divination. Those on astrol- 
ogy include, besides the Centiloquium already mentioned, 
Albumasar's Book of Rains, Messahala on nativities, and a 
Book of Aristotle from 255 volumes of the Indians, of 
which we shall have more to say in the chapter on the 
Pseudo-Aristotle. The works on other forms of divination 
are a geomancy ^ and De spatula, a treatise on divination 
from the shoulder-blades of animals. In the preface to the 
geomancy he promises to treat next of hydromancy but says 
that he has failed to find books of aeromancy or pyromancy.^ 
Although, as has been said, Hugh seems to have labored in- 
dependently of the other translators and in a somewhat out- 
of-the-way town, he nevertheless seems to have felt himself 
in touch with the learning of his time. In his various pref- 
aces, like William of Conches, he speaks of "moderns" as 
well as the arcana of the ancients,^ and his patron is con- 

"seruus" or servus, as I have it 
in the rough notes I took on the 
treatise in August, 1919. 

*The following MSS may be 
noted in addition to those (BN 
7453 and Florence, Laur. II-85, 
Plut. 30, c. 29) listed by Stein- 
schneider (1905), pp. 35-6, and 
Haskins (19"). P- U- 

CU Magdalene 27, late 14th cen- 
tury, fols. 1-66, "Ludus phi- 
losophorum qui apellatur filius 
( ?) Astronomie. Rerum opifex 
deus qui sine exemplo nova con- 
didit universa . . . Ego sanctel- 
liensis geomantie interpretacio- 
nem (instead of inscriptionem as 
given by Haskins from BN 7453) 
ingredior et tibi mi domine tiraso- 
nensis antistes . . ." James adds, 
"On a Latin version of a tract of 
Apollonius, by Hugo Sanctelliensis 
in MS Bib. Nat. Lat. 14951, see F. 
Nau in Rcvuc de I'Oricnt Latin, 
1908," but in a note of 21 June 
1921 Dr. James informs me that 
one should read Orient Chretien 
in place of Orient Latin. 

Vienna 5508, 14th century, fols. 
182-200, Hugo Sacelliensis sive 
Saxalicnsis, Geomantia, "Rerum 
opifex deus .../... sive mun- 
dus facie." 

Vienna 5327, 15th century, fols. 
59r-6ov, Operis de geomantia ad 
Tirasconensem anstitem prologus 
et caput primum. 

Haskins (1911), p. 13, note 45, 
notes that the Laurentian MS has 
a different Incioit from BN 7453, 
but CU Magdalene 27 and Vienna 
5508 agree with the latter Incipit. 

* Haskins, p. 14. 

^ In the preface to his trans- 
lation of el-Biruni's commentary 
on al-Fargani he says, "Lest 
therefore, completely intent upon 
the footprints of the ancients, I 
seem to dissent from the moderns 
utterly . . .", {Ne itaque anti- 
quorum vestigiis penitus insist ens 
a inodernis prorsus videar dissen- 
tire, — Haskins. p. 8). In the 
preface to the Pseudo-Aristotle 
on the 255 books of the Indians 
he speaks of Bishop Michael as 



tinually urging him to write not only what he has gathered 
from the books of the ancients but what he has learned by 
experiment.^ In the preface to his translation of Albuma- 
sar's Book of Rains he tells Bishop Michael that "what the 
modern astrologers of the Gauls most bemoan their lack of, 
your benignity may bestow upon posterity," ^ and the dis- 
tribution of manuscripts of his translations in European 
libraries indicates that they were widely influential. 

The best source for the life and works of Gerard of Acontem- 
Cremona ^ (1114-1187) is a memorandum attached by his nfen^g^ial 
friends to what was presumably his last work, a translation ot 
of the Tegni of Galen with the commentary of Haly, in imi- Cremona. 
tation of Galen who in old age was induced to draw up a 
list of his own works. Gerard, however, is already dead 
when his associates write, having worked right up to life's 
close and passed away in 1187 at the age of seventy-three. 
They state that from the very cradle he was educated in the 
lap of philosophy, and that he learned all he could in every 
department of it studied among the Latins. Then, moved 
by his passion for the Almagest, which he found nowhere 
among the Latins, he came to Toledo. There, beholding the 

exalted above moderns or con- 
temporaries {ultra modernos vel 
coequevos, — Haskins, 10) in fame 
and love of learning, and later of 
"what can be fully explained by 
none of the moderns" {quod a 
nulla modernorum plenissime va- 
let explicari — Haskins, p. 11). In 
the preface to Albumasar's Book 
of Rains occurs the allusion to 
modern astrologers of the Gauls 
given below in the text. 

^ Haskins, p. 10. 

^ Ibid., p. 12, ". . . tue offero 
dignitati, ut quod potissimum sibi 
deesse moderni deflent astrologi 
gallorum posteritati tua benignitas 

' Baldassare Boncompagni, Delia 
Vita e delle Operc di Gherardo 
Cremonesc traduttore del secolo 
djiodccimo e di Gherardo da Sab- 
bionetta Astronomo del secolo 
iecimoterco, Roma, 1851. 

Giovanni Brambilla, Monografie 
di due illustri Cremonesi, Gherar- 
do Toletano e Gherardo Patulo, 
Crevwna, 1894. It largely re- 
peats Boncompagni without ac- 

K. Sudhoff, Die kurse Vita und 
das Vcrzeichnis der Arbeiten Ger- 
hards von Creinona, von seinen 
Schulern und Studicngenossen 
kurs nach dem Tode des Meisters 
(1187) cu Toledo verabfasst, in 
Archiv f. Gesch. d. Medizin, 
herausg v. d. Puschmann-Stif- 
tung an der Universitdt Leipzig, 
VIII, 73, Nov., 1914. 

V. Rose, in Hermes, VIII 
(1874), 334. 

A. A. Bjornbo, Alkindi, Tideus 
und Pseudo-Euclid, 191 1 (Ab- 
handl. z. Gesch. d. Math. Wiss. 
XXVI, 3), 127, 137, 150, etc. 

Steinschneider (1905), 16-32. 



by a pupil 
of his as- 

abundance of books in every field in Arabic and the poverty 
of the Latins in this respect, he devoted his Hfe to the labor 
of translation, scorning the desires of the flesh, although he 
was rich in worldly goods, and adhering to things of the 
spirit alone. He toiled for the advantage of all both pres- 
ent and future, not unmindful of the injunction of Ptolemy 
to work good increasingly as you near your end. Now, 
that his name may not be hidden in silence and darkness, 
and that no alien name may be inscribed by presumptuous 
thievery in his translations, the more so since he (like Galen) 
never signed his own name to any of them, they have drawn 
up a list of all the works translated by him whether in dialec- 
tic or geometry, in "astrology" or philosophy, in medicine or 
in the other sciences.^ 

Another contemporary picture of Gerard's activity at 
Toledo is provided us by the Englishman, Daniel of Morley, 
or de Merlai, who went to Spain to study the sciences of 
the quadrivium. He tells how Gerard of Toledo {Gerardus 
tholetanus) , interpreting the Almagest in Latin with the aid 
of Galippus, the Mozarab," asserted that various future 

^Boncompagni (1851), 3-4, from 
Vatican 2392, fols. 97v-98r. I 
have, except for changing the or- 
der, practically translated the 
Latin text of the Vita, which with 
some omissions is as follows: 
"... Ne igitur magister gerardus 
cremonensis sub taciturnitatis 
tenebris lateat . . . ne per pre- 
sumptuosam rapinam libris ab 
ipso translatis titulus infigatur 
alienus presertim cum nulli eorum 
nomen suum iscripsisset, cuncta 
opera ab eodem translata tarn de 
dyalectica quam de geometria, 
tam de astrologia quam de phy- 
losophya, tam etiam de physica 
quam de aliis scientiis, in fine 
huius tegni novissime ab eo 
translati, imitando Galenum de 
commemoratione suorum libronim 
in fine eiusdem per socios ipsius 
diligentissime fuerint connume- 
rata. ... Is etiam cum bonis 
floreret temporalibus. . . . Carnis 
desideriis inimicando solis spiritu- 
alibus adhaerebat. Cunctis etiam 

presentibus atque futuris prodesse 
laborabat non immemor illius 
ptolomei, cum fini appropinquas, 
bonum cum augmento operare. 
Et cum ab istis infantie cunabulis 
in gremiis philosophiae educatus 
esset, et ad cuiuslibet partis ipsius 
notitiam secundum latinorum 
studium pervenisset, amore tamen 
almagesti quern apud latinos mi- 
nime reperiit tolectum perexit. Ubi 
Hbrorum cuiuslibet facultatis ha- 
bundantiam in arabico cernens et 
latinorum penurie de ipsis quam 
novcrit miserans . . ." etc. 

Other less complete lists of 
Gerard's works are found in the 
following MSS : Laon 413 ; All 
Souls 68, fol. 109; Ashmole 357, 
fol. 57. 

' Arundel 377, 13th century, fols. 
88-103, Philosophia magistri dani- 
elis de merlai ad iohannem Nor- 
wicenscm episcopum, fol. I03r, 
"qui galippo mixtarabe interpre- 
tante almagesti latinavit." 


events followed necessarily from the movements and 
influences of the stars. Daniel was at first astounded by 
this utterance and brought forward the arguments against 
the niathematici or astrologers in the homily of St. Gregory. 
But Gerard answered them all glibly. It should perhaps 
be added that in another passage Daniel without mentioning 
Gerard speaks of setting down in Latin what he learned 
concerning the universe in the speech of Toledo from Galip- 
pus, the Mozarab.^ Gerard's translation of the Almagest 
seems to have been completed in 1175,^ but meanwhile in 
Sicily an anonymous translation from the Greek had ap- 
peared, probably soon after 1160. Of it we shall presently 
have something to say. Gerard's version was, however, the 
generally accepted one, as the number of manuscripts and 
citations of it show. 

But to return to the list of Gerard's translations. Only Charac- 
three of the long list are strictly dialectical, Aristotle's Pos- Gerard's 
terior Analytics, the commentary of Themistius upon them, transla- 
and Alfarabi on the syllogism. And only one or two of the 
translations listed under the heading De phylosophya are 
pure philosophy.^ Most of Gerard's work is mathematical 
and medical, natural and occult science. He translates Ptol- 
emy and Euclid; Archimedes, Galen and Aristotle; Autoly- 
cus and Theodosius ; and such writers in Arabic as Alkindi, 
Alfarabi, Albucasis, Alfraganus, Messahala, Thebit, Ge- 
ber, Alhazen, Isaac, Rasis, and Avicenna. His mathemati- 
cal translations include the fields of algebra and perspective 
as well as geometry and astronomy. Of Aristotle's natural 
philosophy the list includes the Physics, De coelo et mundo, 
De generatione et corriiptione, De meteoris except the fourth 
and last book which he could not find,* and the first part of 

* Arundel 377, fol. 89V, "quod a Greek about the middle of the 
galippo mixtarabe in linpua thole- twelfth century by Aristippus, 
tana didici latine subscribitur." minister of William the Bad of 

"Boncompagni (i8.=;i) 18, quot- Sicily: see Singer (iQi?) .P- 24; 

ing Laurent. Plut. 89, 13th cen- V. Rose, Die Liicke im Diogenes 

turv. Laertius und der alte Uebersetser, 

'Such as "Aristotelis de ex- m Hermes I (1866) 376; Haskins 

positione bonitatis pure." (1920) p. 605; F. H. Fobes, 

* It was translated from the Medieval Versions of Aristotle's 




religion in 
the pref- 
ace to a 
of the 
from the 

the astrological De causis proprietatttm et elementoriim as- 
cribed to Aristotle. Among his translations of Galen was 
the apocryphal De secretis, of which we shall have more to 
say in a later chapter on books of experiments. Three 
treatises of alchemy are included in the list of his trans- 
lations and also a geomancy, although Boncompagni tries 
to saddle the latter upon Gerardus de Sabloneto. Gerard 
is also supposed to have translated some works not men- 
tioned in this list but ascribed to him in the manuscripts. 
One of interest to us is a work on stones of the Pseudo- 

We must say a word of the anonymous Sicilian trans- 
lation of the Almagest which preceded that of Gerard of 
Cremona, because of a defense in its preface ^ of natural 
science against a theological opposition of which the anony- 
mous translator appears to be painfully conscious. After 
darkly hinting that he was prevented from speedily com- 
pleting the translation by "other secret" obstacles ^ as well 
as by the manifest fact that he did not understand "the 
science of the stars" well,^ and remarking that the artisan 
can hope for nothing where the art is in disrepute, the trans- 
lator inveighs against those who rashly judge things about 
which they know nothing, and who, lest they seem ignorant 
themselves, call what they do not know useless and profane. 
Hence the Arabs say that there is no greater enemy of an 
art than one who is unacquainted with it. So far the tone 
of the preface reminds one strongly of those of William of 
Conches. The writer proceeds to complain that the opposi- 
tion to mathematical studies has gone so far that "the sci- 
ence of numbers and mensuration is thought entirely super- 

Meteorology, in Classical Philol- 
ogy X (1915) 297-314; Greek text, 
ed. Fobes, Cambridge, 1919. 

* Ed. V. Rose, in Zeitschrift f. 
deutschcs Alterthum, XVIII 
(1875) 349-82. 

* The preface was printed by 
Haskins and Lockwood, The 
Sicilian Translators of the 
Twelfth Century, in Harvard 

Studies in Classical Philology, 
XXI (1910) pp. 99-102, to which 
text the following citations apply. 
Commented upon by J. L. Hei- 
berg, Noch cinnial die mittelal- 
terliche Ptolemaios-Uebersetsung, 
in Hermes, XLVI (1911) 207- 

'Line 31. 

* Line 42. 


fluous and useless, while the study of astronomy (i. e. as- 
trology) is esteemed idolatry." ^ Yet Remigius tells us that 
Abraham taught the Egyptians "astrology" (i. e. astron- 
omy), and the translator ironically adds that he supposes it 
can be shown from Moses and Daniel that God condemned 
the science of the stars. He then dilates on how essential it 
is to study and understand the created world before rising 
to study of the Creator, and waxes sarcastic at the ex- 
pense of those who study theology before they know any- 
thing else and think themselves able like eagles to soar aloft 
at once above the clouds, disdaining earth and earthly things, 
and to gaze unblinded upon the full sun : - — a passage some- 
what similar to Roger Bacon's diatribe against the "boy- 
theologians" in the following century. 

The translator, although his own rendition is from a Arabs and 
Greek manuscript, shows some familiarity with Arabic '"od^''"^- 
learning. Besides the Arabic saying already quoted, in 
giving the Greek title of Ptolemy's thirteen books on as- 
tronomy he adds that the Saracens call it by the corrupt 
name, elmcgiiisti (i. e. Almagest) .^ He also acknowledges 
the aid he has received from Eugene, the admiral or emir, 
whose translation of Ptolemy's Optks from the Arabic we 
have mentioned elsewhere, and whom he describes as equally 
skilled in Greek and Arabic, and "also not ignorant of 
Latin." It may also be noted that as Adelard of Bath con- 
trasted "the writings of men of old" with "the science of 
moderns," ^ so this translator characterizes Ptolemy as 
veterum lima, specculttm modernorum. 

This seems the best place to call attention to some evi- Astron- 
dence for the existence of astronomical, and apparently ^rseilles 
also astrological, activity at Marseilles in the twelfth cen- 
tury, seemingly under the influence of the Arabic as- 
tronomy and astrology. In a manuscript at Paris which 
the catalogue dates of the twelfth century ^ is a treatise for- 

' Line 61. ° BN 14704, fols. 144-70 (present 

* Line 87 et seq. numbering, fols. iior-35v). The 
' Line 23. handwriting seems to me later 

* Lines 20-21, than the twelfth century, but I am 


merly said to have been composed at Marseilles in the year 
mi A. D. But Duhem has suggested that the XI should 
be XL, since the author tells of a dispute at Marseilles in 
1139.^ The text tells how to find the location of the 
planets for the city of Marseilles and is accompanied by 
astronomical tables imitating Azarchel. The same treatise 
appears in a manuscript at Cambridge,^ written before the 
year 1175, where it is entitled "The Book of the Courses 
of the Seven Planets for Marseilles" and seems to be at- 
tributed to a Raymond of that city. Duhem notes that 
our author often cites an earlier treatise of his, De com- 
positione astrolabii. The treatise opens with allusion to 
"many of the Indians and Chaldeans and Arabs" ; the author 
also says, "And since we were the first of the Latins to whom 
this science came after the translation of the Arabs," and 
avers that he employs the Christian calendar and chronology 
in order to avoid all appearance of heresy or infidelity. So 
we would seem to be justified in connecting it with the dif- 
fusion of Arabic astronomy and astrology. Our author 
believes that God endowed the sky with the virtue of pre- 
saging the future, cites various authorities sacred and pro- 
fane in favor of astrology, and emphasizes especially the 
importance of astrological medicine.^ It was also at Mar- 
seilles that William of England early in the next century in 
the year 12 19 wrote his brief but very popular treatise, 
found in many manuscripts, entitled "Of Urine Unseen" 
(De urina non visa), that is, how by astrology to diagnose 
a case and tell the color and substance of the urine without 
seeing it. Of it we shall treat again later in connection with 
thirteenth century medicine. But we may note here that 

not an expert in such matters, dare poterit. Expl. liber cursuum 

The text ends at fol. Ii8v; the planetarum vii." The Paris MS 

rest is tables. ends with the same sentence, but 

^ Duhem, III (1915), 201-16. prefixes at the beginning, "Ad 

' CU McClean 165, f ols. 44-47, honorem et laudem dominis nostri, 

Liber cursuum planetarum vii patris scilicet et filii," etc. I have 

super Massiliam, "Cum multos examined the Paris but not the 

indorum seu caldeorum atque Cambridge MS. Duhem does not 

arabum. . / . . Attamen siquis pro- note the latter, 

vidus fuerit premissa satis emen- 'Duhem (191S) 205. 


William, although of English nationality, was a citizen of 
Marseilles, and that the person to whom his work Of Urine 
Unseen was addressed had formerly studied with him at 
Marseilles. William is also spoken of as a professor of 
medicine. Furthermore in at least one manuscript William 
of England is called a translator from the Arabic, since he 
is said to have translated from that tongue into Latin "The 
very great Secret of Catenus, king of the Persians, concern- 
ing the virtue of the eagle." ^ We may also note that it was 
in reply to inquiries which he had received from Jews of 
Marseilles' that Moses Maimonides in 1194 addressed to 
them his letter on astrology." Interest in astronomy and 
astrology thus appears to have prevailed at Marseilles from 
the first half to the close of the twelfth century. 

^ Merton College 324, isth cen- .../... Explicit iste tractatus 

tury, but with such early works a magistro Willelmo Anglico de 

as that of Marbod, fol. 142, lingua Arabica in Latinum trans- 

Secretissimum regis Cateni Per- latus." One wonders if it is a 

sarum de virtute aquilae, "Est fragment of Kiranides. 
enim aquila rex omnium avium. * See below, pp. 206, 211. 





Johannes Anglicus : see John of Montpellier. 

Johannes Archangel : Additional 22773, 13th century, fol. 45, 
"Tabule Johannis Archangeli" astronomiae ; said to be the same 
as Johannes Campanus. 

Johannes de Beltone, Sloane 314, 15th century, fol. 106, Experi- 
mentum de re astrologica bonum (imperfect). 

Johannes Blanchinus, BN 7268, Distinctiones in Ptolemaei alma- 
gestum; BN 7269, 7270, 7271, 7286, Tabulae astronomicae ; BN 
7270, 7271, de primo mobili ; Perugia 1004, 15th century, "Trac- 
tatus primus de arithmetricha per Johannem de Blanchinis. . . . 
Regule conclusionum ad practicam algebre in simplicibus. . . . 
Tractatus florum Almagesti." Professor Karpinski informs me 
that the Flores Almagesti of Giovanni Bianchini was discussed 
by L. Birkenmajer in Bull. d. VAcad. d. Sciences de Cracovie, 

Johannes Bonia, Valentinus, BN 7416A, translated Fachy, Sex 
genera instrumentonim sive Canones Quadrantis universalis; 
see Steinschneider (1905) p. 39. 

John of Brescia, who translstted with Profatius Judaeus at Mont- 
pellier; see Steinschneider (1905) 40. 

John of Campania, BN 6948, 14th centurj', t i, "Abenzoaris Taysir 
sive rectificatio medicationis et regiminis," translated from 
Hebrew into Latin. 

Johannes Campanus (of Novara) is of course well known for his 
Theory of the Planets and translation of and commentary on 
Euclid. Perhaps less familiar works are : Additional 22yy2, 
15th century, Johannis Campani Novarensis liber astronomicus 
de erroribus Ptolemaei, dedicated to Pope Urban IV ; Amplon. 
Quarto 349, late 14th century, fols. 57-65, de figura sectorum; 
indeed, the collection of Amplonius at Erfurt is rich in works 
by Campanus. Concerning him see further HL XXI (1847) 
248-54 and Duhem III (1915) 317-21. They hold that Cam- 



panus is not called John in the MSS. His letter to Urban IV 
(1261-1265) and Simon of Genoa's dedication of this Clavis 
sanationis in 1292 to "master Campanus, chaplain of the pope 
and canon at Paris," serve to date him in the later 13th century. 

John of Cilicia (apparently the same as John of Sicily), Harleian 
I, fols. 92-151, Scripta super Canones Arzachelis de tabulis 

John Dastine (or Dastyn), among whose treatises on alchemy 
may be mentioned Ashmole 1446, fols. 141 -54V, "Incipit epis- 
tola ... ad Papam Johannem XXII transmissa de alchimia"; 
also found in CU Trinity 1122, I4-I5th century, fol. 94V-. 

Johannes de Dondis, Laud. Misc. 620, i6th century, "Opus Plane- 
tarii Johannis de Dondis, fisici, Paduani civis." 

lohannes Egidii Zamorensis, Berlin 934, 14th century, 242 fols., 
de historia naturali ; it includes a reproduction of John of Spain's 
39 chapters on the astrolabe. 

John of Florence, Magliabech. XI-22; XVI-66, fols. 260-301, "In- 
cipit liber de magni lapidis compositione editus a magistro artis 
generalis florentino. .../... Explicit secretum secretorum 
mineralis lapidis mag lo." 

Joannes de Janua (Genoa), BN 7281, 7322, Canon eclypsium; 
7281, Investigatio eclipseos solis 1337; 7282, Canones Tabulares. 
He is classed by Duhem IV (1916) 74-, as a disciple of Jean 
des Linieres. 

Joannes de Lineriis, BN 7281, 15th century, tg, Theorica plane- 
tarum ed. anno 1335, Sii, Canones tabularum Alphonsi anno 
1310; and other astronomical treatises in BN 7282, 7285, 7295, 
7295A, 7329, 7378A, 7405, etc. Gonville and Caius no, 14th 
century, pp. 1-6, Canones super magnum almanach omnium 
planetarum a mag. lohanne de Lineriis picardi ambianensis 
dyocesis, compositum super meridianum parisiensem. See also 
Duhem IV (1916) 60-68, "Jean des Linieres." 

loannes Lodoycus Tetrapharmacus, S. Marco XIV-38, 14th cen- 
tury, 160 fols., "Antidotarius Galaf Albucassim Aqarauni a 
loanne Lodoyco Tetrapharmaco gebenensi filio Petri fructiferi 
mathematici . . . de arabico in latinum translatus" (1198 A. D.), 

John of London, BN 7413, 14th century, fols. I9v-2ir, de astrologia 
judicaria ad R. de Guedingue, or it may be better described as a 
letter, written in 1246 or shortly thereafter ("usque ad conside- 
racionem meam que fuit anno Christi 1246"), in which John 
discusses various matters, including the motion of the eighth 
sphere and dog days, and states that he is sending a transcript 
of tables of the fixed stars which he verified at Paris. 


The John of London who gave so many MSS to the library of St. 
Augustine's, Canterbury — see James (1903) — ^would seem to 
have been of later date, since his books included works of 
Aquinas, Roger Bacon, and John Peckham, the chronicle of 
Martin which extends to 1277, translations of the astrological 
treatises of Abraham aben Ezra which were not made until 
toward the close of the 13th century, and even treatises by 
Joannes de Lineriis who wrote in the early 14th century and 
William of St. Cloud who made his astronomical observations 
between 1285 and 1321. It therefore seems unlikely that the 
donor, John of London, could be even the young lad who was 
spoken of in such high terms by Roger Bacon, as is suggested 
by James (1903) pp. Ixxiv-vii. Possibly the Friar John men- 
tioned below is Bacon's protege. 

John Manduith, CUL 1572 (Gg. VI. 3), 14th century, astronomical 
treatises and tables. Other MSS, mentioned by Tanner (1748) 
p. 506, contain tables finished by him in Oxford in 1310. 

Johannis de Mehun (Jean de Meun), de lapide minerali et de 
lapide vegetabili, Sloane 976, 15th century, fols. 85-108; Sloane 
1069, 1 6th century. 

Johannes de Messina, a translator for Alfonso X in 1276; perhaps 
identical with John of Sicily, see Steinschneider (1905) p. 51. 

Fratris Joannis ord. Minorum Summa de astrologia, BN 7293A, 
14th century, $3. Possibly this is Roger Bacon's lad John fol- 
lowing in his master's footsteps. 

John of Montpellier or Anglicus (and see John of St. Giles), a 
treatise on the quadrant. BN 7298, 7414, 7416B, 7437, Joannes 
de Montepessulano de quadrante ; Firenze II-iii-22, i6th cen- 
tury, fols. 268-82, "Explicit quadrans magistri lohannis Anglici 
in monte;" Firenze II-iii-24, 14th century, fols. 176-82, "Incipit 
tractatus quadrantis veteris secundum magistrum lohannem de 
Montepessulano." CUL 1707 (Qi. L 15), fols. io-i4r, "Quad- 
rans Magistri Johannis Anglici in Monte Pessulano." CUL 
1767 (Qi, in. 3), 1276 A. D., fols. 56-60, Tractatus quadrantis 
editus a magistro Johanne in monte Pessulano. 

John of Meurs (Johannes de Muris), a French writer on music, 
mathematics and astronomy in 1321, 1322, 1323, 1339, and 1345. 
Parts of his works have been printed. See further L. C. Kar- 
pinski, "The 'Quadripartitum numerorum' of John of Meurs," 
in Bibl. Math. (1912-1913) 99-114; R. Hirschfeld, lo. de Muris,- 
1884; Duhem (1916) IV, 30-37. 

Johannes Ocreatus, see Steinschneider (1905) p. 51. 

Johannes Papiensis, see Steinschneider (1905) p. 51. 


Johannes Parisiensis, master in theology, besides several theolog- 
ical treatises w^rote de yride and super librum metheorum. His 
Contra corruptum Thome shows that he wrote after Aquinas. 
See Denifle (1886) p. 226. 

There was also a medical writer named John of Paris who per- 
haps, rather than Thaddeus of Florence, wrote the treatise, De 
complexionibus corporis humani, Amplon. Quarto 35, 1421 
A. D., fols. 142-58. The remark of V. Rose may also be re- 
called, "loh. Parisiensis ist bekanntlich ein Madchen fiir alles." 

John of Poland, Addit. 22668, I3th-i4th century, Liber Magistri 
Johannis Poloni," medical recipes, etc. 

Johannes de Probavilla, Vienna 2520, 14th century, fols. 37-50, 
"Liber de signis prognosticis." 

John of Procida, see De Renzi, III, 71, Placita Philosophorum 
Moralium Antiquorum ex Graeco in Latinum translata a Ma- 
gistro Joanne de Procida Magno cive Salernitano. 

Johannes de Protsschida, CLM 27006, 15th century, fols. 216-31, 
Compendium de occultis naturae. 

loannes de Rupecissa, a Franciscan who wrote various works on 
alchemy and who was imprisoned by the pope in 1345 for his 
prophecies concerning the church and antichrist; it would take 
too long to list the MSS here. 

Johannes de Sacrobosco (John Holywood), well known for his 
Sphere, which has been repeatedly printed and was the subject 
of commentaries by many medieval authors. 

Joannes de S. Aegidio (John of St. Giles, also Anglicus or de 
Sancto Albano), Bodleian 786, fol. 170, Experimenta (medical). 

John of St. Amand, a medical writer, discussed in our 58th chap- 

Johannes de Sancto Paulo, another medical writer whose best 
known work seems to be that on medicinal simples. 

John of Salisbury; see our 41st chapter. 

John of Saxony, or John Danko of Saxony, at Paris in 1331 wrote 
a commentary on the astrological Ysagogicus of Alchabitius, 
which John of Spain had earlier translated. Amplon. Quarto 
354, 14th century, fols. 4-59, Commenta Dankonis scilicet magis- 
tri lohannis de Saxonia super Alkubicium; Amplon. Folio 387, 
14th century, 46 fols., lohannis Danconis Saxonis almanach 
secundum tabulas Alfonsinas compositum et annis 1336-1380 me- 
ridiano Parisiensi accomodatum — also in Amplon. Folio 389 and 
many other MSS; BN 7197, 7281, 7286. 7295A, Canones ad 
motum stellarum ordinati. Duhem IV (1916) yy and 578-81 


holds that two men have been confounded as John of Saxony, — 
one of the 13th, the other of the 14th century. 

Johannes de Sicca Villa, Royal 12-E-XXV, fols. 37-65, de prin- 
cipiis naturae. 

Joannes de Sicilia, BN 7281, 7406, Expositio super canones Arza- 
chelis. Steinschneider (1905) p. 51, dates it in 1290 and regards 
this John as "hardly to be identified" ("schwerlich identisch") 
with John of Messina. See also Duhem IV (1916) 6-9. 

Joannes de Toledo, perhaps identical with John of Spain, as we 
have said. 

lohannes de Tornamira, dean or chancellor of Montpellier, Amplon. 
Folio 272, 1391 A. D., fols. 1-214, Clarificatorium . . . procedens 
secundum Rasim in nono Almansoris. 

Joannes Vincentius, Presbyter, Prior Eccles. de Monast, super 
Ledum, BN 3446, 15th century, lf2, Adversus magicas artes et 
eos qui dicunt artibus eisdem nullam inesse efficaciam; Incipit 

John of Wallingford, Cotton Julius D-V'I, fols. i-7r, an astro- 
nomical fragment. 



Problem of his identity — His works — Their influence — Disregard of 
Christian theology — The divine stars — Orders of spirits — The stars rule 
nature and reveal the future — Plot of the Mathematicus — Different 
interpretations put upon the Mathematicus — Hildebert's Hermaphro- 
dite's horoscope — The art of geomancy — Prologue of the Experimen- 
tarius — Pictures of Bernard Silvester — Problem of a spying-tube and 
Hermann's relation to the Experimentarius — Text of the Experimen- 
tarius — Two versions of the 28 Judges — Other modes of divination — ■ 
Divination of the physician of King Amalricus — ^/renostica Socratis 
Basilci — Further modes of divination — Experimental character of geo- 
mancj' — Various other geomancies — Interest of statesmen and clergy 
in the art — Appendix I. Manuscripts of the Experimentarius of Ber- 
nard Silvester. 

"Nell' ora che non pud il calor diurno 
Intrepidar pin il freddo delta lun<t, 
Vinto da terra, falor da Saturno 
Quando i geomanti lor Maggior Fortiina 
Veggiono in oriente, innan^i all' alba, 
Surger per via che poco le sta bruno." 

Purg. XIX, 1-6. 

of his 

Bernard Silvester, of whom this chapter will treat, is Problem 
now generally recognized as a different person from 
the Bernard of Chartres whom William of Conches fol- 
lowed and on whose teaching John of Salisbury looked 
back.^ From John's account it is plain that Bernard of 
Chartres belonged to the generation before William of Con- 
ches, and Clerval has shown reason to believe that he was 

' Qerval, Les JEcoles de Char- 
tres. Paris, 189s, pp. 158-63. The 
point was for a time contested 
by Ch. V. Langlois, "Maitre Ber- 
nard," in Bibi. de I'^cole des 
Charles, LIV (1893) and by 

Haureau. The two Bernards are 
still identified in EB, nth edition, 
while Steinschneider (1905), p. 8, 
still identified Bernard of Char- 
tres with the author of De mundi 



dead by 1130.^ Bernard Silvester, on the other hand, wrote 
his De mundi imiversitate during the pontificate of Eugenius 
III, 1145-1153. Moreover, one of his pupils informs us 
that he taught at Tours.^ This last fact also makes it diffi- 
cult, although not impossible, to identify him with a Breton, 
named Bernard de Moelan, who, after serving as canon and 
chancellor at Chartres, became bishop of Quimper from 
1 1 59 to 1167.^ At least they appear to have had somewhat 
similar interests, and Silvester seems to have had some con- 
nection with the school of Chartres, since he dedicated the 
De mundi imiversitate to Theodoric of Chartres.^ 
His works. A number of works are extant under the name of Ber- 

nard Silvester. His interest in rhetoric and poetry is shown 
by a long Siimma dictaminis (or, dictaminum) and by a 
Liber de metrificatiira, in the Titidus of which he is called 
"a poet of the first rank" (optimi poetae).^ He also wrote 
a commentary on the first books of the Aeneid.^ Two other 
treatises are ascribed to him in which we are not here fur- 
ther interested, namely : De fornia vitae honestae and De 
cura rei familiaris or Epistola ad Raimundimi de modo rei 
familiaris gubernandae.'^ The three works of especial in- 
terest to us, while no one of them is exactly a treatise on 
astrology, all illustrate, albeit each in a different way, the 
dominance of astrological doctrine in the thought of the 
time. One is Experimcntarius, an astrological geomancy 
translated into verse from the Arabic.^ Another is a nar- 

* Dr. R. L. Poole, EHR (1920), famosissimo bernardus silvestris 
p. 2>2y, does not regard this as ab- opus suum." 

solutely certain but agrees at p. ° Clerval (1895), pp. 173-4- 

331 "that the evidence of place * BN 16246, 15th century. Ex- 

and time make it impossible to tracts from it are printed by 

identify Bernard Silvester with Cousin, Fragments philosophiques, 

Bernard of Chartres," as he had II, 348-52. John of Salisbury in 

done earlier in Illustrations of 1159 used it in the Polycraticus, 

Medieval Thought (1884), pp. ed. Webb (1909) I. x^x, xlii-xliii. 

113-26. '' Many MSS at Paris, BN 3195, 

'B. Haureau, Le Mathematicus 5698, 6395, 6477, 6480, 7054, 8299, 

de Bernard Silvestris, Paris, 8513, and probably others. MSS 

1895, p. II. catalogues often ascribe it to 

'Clerval (1895), pp. 158, 173. St. Bernard. 

* BN 6415, f ol. 74V, "Terrico * Attention was first called to it 
veris scientiarum titulis doctori by Langlois, Maitrc Bernard- 




Additional 35112, Liber de mun- 
di philosophia, author not named. 

Sloane 2477 and Royal 15-A- 

CU Trinity 1335, early 13th 
century, fols. 1-25V, Bernardi 
Silvestris Cosmographia. 

CU Trinity 1368 (II), late 
I2th century, 50 leaves, Bernardi 
Silvestris Megacosmus et Mi- 

'Clerval's (1895) pp. 259-61, 
"Le systeme de Bernard Silves- 
ter," is limited to the De mundi 
universitate and says nothing of 
his obvious astrological doctrine, 
although at p. 240 Clerval briefly 
states that in that work Bernard 
takes over many figures from 
pagan astrology. 

*HL XII (1763) p. 261 et seq., 
besides the De nvundi universitate 
mentioned "two poems in elegiacs 
written expressly in defense of 
the influence of the constella- 
tions." These were very probably 
the Matheniaticus and Experi- 
mentarius, or the two parts or 
versions of the latter. 

^ History of Classical Scholar- 
ship (1903) I, 515; Illustrations 
of Medieval Thought (1884) p. 

"EHR (1920) p. 331. 


rative poem whose plot hinges upon an astrologer's pre- 
diction and whose very title is Mathematicus} The third 
work, variously entitled De mundi universitate, Megacosmus 
et Microcosmus, and Cosmographia - has much to say of the 
stars and their rule over inferior creation.^ It is written 
partly in prose and partly in verse,^ and shows that Bernard 
laid as much stress on literary form in his scientific or 
pseudo-scientific v/orks as in those on rhetoric and meter. 
Sandys says of it, "The rhythm of the hexameters is clearly 
that of Lucan, while the vocabulary is mainly that of Ovid" ; 
but Dr. Poole believes that the hexameters are modelled upon 
Lucretius.^ He would date it either in 1145 or about 1147- 

The manuscripts of these three works are fairly numer- Their 
ous, indicating that they were widely read, and no con- 

1893. It has not been printed. 
A description of some of the MSS 
of it will be found in Appendix I 
at the close of this chapter. 

^ B. Haureau, Le Mathematicus 
de Bernard Silvestris, Paris, 1895, 
contains the text and lists the fol- 
lowing MSS: BN 3718, 5129, 
6415; Tours 300; Cambrai 875; 
Bodleian A-44; Vatican 344, 370, 
1440 de la Reine; Berlin Cod. 
Theol. Octavo 94. Printed in 
Migne PL 171, 1365-80, among the 
poems of Hildebert of Tours. 

' Ed. by Wrobel and Barach, in 
Bibl. Philos. mediae aetatis, Inns- 
bruck, 1876, from two MSS, 
Vienna 526 and CLM 22,^^A. 
HL XII (1763), p. 261 et seq., 
had already listed six MSS in the 
then Royal Library at Paris (now 
there are at least eight, BN 3245, 
6415, 6752A, 7994, 8320, 875 1 C, 
8808A, and 15009, I2-I3th cen- 
lury, fol. 187), four at the 
Vatican, and many others else- 
where. The following may be 
added : 

Cotton Titus D-XX, fols. iiov- 
iiSr, Bernardi Sylvestris de 
utroque mundo, majore et minore. 

Cotton Cleopatra A-XIV, fols. 
1-26, Bernardi Sylvestris cosmo- 
graphia proso-metrice in qua de 
multis rebus physicis agitur. 


temporary objection appears to have been raised against 
their rather extreme astrological doctrines. As was well 
observed concerning the De mundi unwersitate over one 
hundred and fifty years ago, "These extravagances and some 
other similar ones did not prevent the book from achieving 
a very brilliant success from the moment of its first ap- 
pearance," as is shown by the contemporary testimony of 
Peter Cantor in the closing twelfth century and Eberhart 
de Bethune in the early thirteenth century, who says that the 
De mundi nnirersitate was read in the schools. Gervaise of 
Tilbury and Vincent of Beauvais also cited it.^ Indeed in 
our next chapter we shall find a Christian abbess, saint, and 
prophetess of Bernard's own time charged — by a modern 
writer, it is true — with making use of it in her visions. 
Passages from Silvester are included in a thirteenth cen- 
tury collection of "Proverbs" from ancient and recent 
writers,^ and more than one copy of the De mundi universi- 
tafe is listed in such a medieval monastic library as St. Au- 
gustine's, Canterbury.^ 
Disregard In the De mundi imiversitate we see the same influence 

tianthe-' ^^ Platonism and astronomy, and of the Latin translation 
ology. of the Timaeiis in especial, as in the Philosophia of William 

of Conches. At the same time, its abstract personages and 
personified sciences, its Nous and Nat lira, its Urania and 
Physis with her two daughters. Theoretical and Practical, 
remind us of the pages of Martianus Capella and of Adelard 
of Bath's De eodem et diverso. The characterization by 
Dr. Poole that the work "has an entirely pagan complexion," 
and that Bernard's scheme of cosmology is pantheistic and 
takes no account of Christian theology,^ is essentially true, 
although occasionally some utterance indicates that the writer 
is acquainted with Christianity and no true pagan. Per- 

* HL XII (1763) p. 261 et seq. Afcgacosmus and Mathcvujticus, 

^Berlin 193 (Phillips 1827), fol. with the treatise of Valerius to 

25V, "Proverbia." Rufinus on not getting married 

^Indeed, the 15th century cat- sandwiched in between. 

alogue of that abbey lists one MS, * Poole (1884) pp. 1 17-18. 

1482, which contains both the 


haps it is just because Bernard makes no pretense of being 
a theologian, that at a time when William of Conches was 
retracting in his Dragmaticon some of the views expressed in 
his Philosophia and the Sicilian translator was conscious of 
a bigoted theological opposition, Bernard should display nei- 
ther fear nor consciousness of the existence of any such op- 
position. And yet it does not appear that the Sicilian trans- 
lator engaged in theological discussion. Yet he complains 
of those who call astronomy idolatry; Bernard calmly calls 
the stars gods, and no one seems to have raised the least ob- 
jection. At least Bernard's fearless outspokenness and its 
subsequent popularity should prevent our laying too much 
stress upon the timidity of other writers in expressing new 
views, and should make us hesitate before interpreting their 
attitude as a sure sign of real danger to freedom of thought 
and speech, and to scientific investigation. 

What especially concerns our investigation are the views The divine 
concerning stars and spirits expressed by Silvester. Like ^^^"' 
William of Conches, he describes the world of spirits in a 
Platonic or Neo-Platonic, rather than patristic, style. He 
differs from William in hardly using the word "demon" at 
all and in according the stars, like Adelard of Bath, a much 
higher place in his hierarchy. "The heaven itself is full of 
God," says Bernard, "and the sky has its own animals, side- 
real fires," ^ just as man, who is in part a spiritual being, 
inhabits the earth. Bernard does not hesitate to call the 
stars "gods who serve God in person," or "who serve in 
God's very presence." ^ There in the region of purer ether 
which extends as far as the sun they enjoy the vision of bliss 
eternal, free from all care and distraction, and resting in the 
peace of God which passeth all understanding.^ He also 

'' De mundi universitate, II, 6, praesentia servit." 

10, "Caelum ipsum Deo plenum Also II, 4, 39, "deos caelumque." 

est. . . . Sua caelo animalia ignes ^ Ibid., II, 6, 49, "Qui quia 

siderei. . . ." aeternae beatitudinis visione per- 

^ Ibid., I, 3, 6-7, _ fruuntur, ab omni distrahentis 

"Motus circuitus numina turba curae sollicitudine feriati in pace 

deum Dei quae omnem sensum superat 

Dice deos quorum ante Deum conquiescunt." 



Orders of 

The stars 
rule na- 
ture and 
reveal the 

repeats the Platonic doctrine that the mind is from the sky 
and that the human soul, when at last it lays aside the body, 
"will return to its kindred stars, added as a god to the num- 
ber of superior beings," ^ 

Between heaven and earth, between God and man, comes 
the mediate and composite order of "angelic creation." 
"With the divinity of the stars" the members of this order 
share the attribute of deathlessness; with man they have 
this in common, to be stirred by passion and impulse.- Be- 
tween sun and moon are benevolent angels who act as me- 
diums between God and man. Other spirits inhabit the air 
beneath the moon. Some of them display an affinity to the 
near-by ether and fire, and live in tranquillity and mental 
serenity, although dwelling in the air. A second variety are 
the genii who are associated each with some man from birth 
to warn and guide him. But in the lower atmosphere are 
disorderly and malignant spirits who often are divinely 
commissioned to torment evil-doers, or sometimes torment 
men of their own volition. Often they invisibly invade 
human minds and thoughts by silent suggestion ; again they 
assume bodies and take on ghostly forms. These Bernard 
calls angelos desertores, or fallen angels. But there are still 
left to be noted the spirits who inhabit the earth, on moun- 
tains or in forests and by streams : Silvani, Pans, and Nerei. 
They are of harmless character (innocua conversatione) 
and, being composed of the elements in a pure state, are long- 
lived but in the process of time will dissolve again. ^ This 
classification of spirits seems to follow Martianus Capella. 

Bernard's assertion that the stars are gods is accom- 
panied, as one would naturally expect, by a belief in their 
control of nature and revelation of the future. From their 
proximity to God they receive from His mind the secrets 
of the future, which they "establish through the lower spe- 

^De mundi univcrsiiate, II, 4, 'Ibid., II, 6, 36-, "Participat- 

49-50. enim angelicae creationis numerus 

"Corpore iam posito cognata cum siderum divinitate quod non 

reibit ad astra moritur ; cum homine, quod pas- 

Additus in numero superum sionum aflFectibus incitatur." 

deus." ' Ibid., II, 6, 92 et scq. 


cies of the universe by inevitable necessity." ^ Life comes 
to the world of nature from the sky as if from God, and the 
creatures of the earth, air, and water could not move from 
their tracks, did they not absorb vivifying motions from 
the sky,^ Nous or Intelligence says to Nature, "I would 
have you behold the sky, inscribed with a multiform variety 
of images, which, like a book with open pages, containing 
the future in cryptic letters, I have revealed to the eyes of 
the more learned." ^ In another passage Bernard affirms 
that God writes in the stars of the sky what can come "from 
fatal law," that the movements of the stars control all ages, 
that there already is latent in the stars a series of events 
which long time will unfold, and that all the events of his- 
tory, even the birth of Christ, have been foreshadowed by 
the stars. 
"Scribit enim caelum stellis totumque figurat 
Quod de fatali lege venire potest, 
Praesignat qualique modo qualique tenore 

Omnia sidereus saecula motus agat. 
Praejacet in stellis series quam longior aetas 

Explicet et spatiis temporis ordo suis : 
Sceptra Phoronei, fratrum discordia Thebae, 

Flammae Phaethonis, Deucalionis aquae. 
In stellis Codri paupertas, copia Croesi, 
Incestus Paridis, Hippolytique pudor; 
In stellis Priami species, audacia Turni, 
Sensus Ulixeus, Herculeusque vigor. 
In stellis pugil est Pollux, et navita Typhis, 

Et Cicero rhetor, et geometra Thales; 
In stellis lepidus dictat Maro, Milo figurat, 

Fulgurat in latia nobilitate Nero. 
Astra notat Persis, Aegyptus parturit artes, 

Graecia docta legit, praelia Roma gerit. 
Exemplar specimenque Dei virguncula Christum 

Parturit, et verum saecula numen habent." * 
^ De mundi universitate, II, 6, ^ Ibid., II, i, 23-. 

47-. * Ibid., 1, 3, 33 et seq. 

'Ibid., I, 4, 5-. 


Yet Bernard urges man to model his life after the stars,^ 
and once speaks of "what is free in the will and what is of 
necessity." He thus appears, like the author of the treatise 
on fate ascribed to Plutarch, like Boethius, and like a hpst 
of other theologians, philosophers, and astrologers, to be- 
lieve in the co-existence of free will, inevitable fate, and 
"variable fortune." ^ 

Bernard Silvester's interest and faith in the art of as- 
trology is further exemplified by his poem Mathcmaticus, 
a narrative which throughout assumes the truth of astrologi- 
cal prediction concerning human fortune. Haureau showed 
that it had been incorrectly included among the works of 
Hildebert of Tours and Le Mans, and that the theme is 
suggested in the fourth Pseudo-Quintillian declamation, but 
that Bernard has added largely to the plot there briefly out- 
lined. A Roman knight and lady were in every respect well 
endowed both by nature and fortune except that their mar- 
riage had up to the moment when the story opens been a 
childless one. At last the wife consulted an astrologer or 
mathematiais, "who could learn from the stars," we are told, 
"the intentions of the gods, the mind of the fates, and the 
plan of Jove, and discover the hidden causes and secrets of 
nature." He informed her that she would bear a son who 
would become a great genius and the ruler of Rome, but 
who would one day kill his father. \\'hen the wife told her 
husband of this prediction, he made her promise to kill the 
child in infancy. But when the time came, her mother love 
prevailed and she secretly sent the boy away to be reared, 
while she assured her husband that he w^as dead. She named 
her son Patricida in order that he might abhor the crime 
of patricide the more. The boy early gave signs of great 
intellectual capacity. Among other studies he learned "the 

^ De mundi universitate, II, 4, fatum 

31-50; and II, I, 30-32. Fortunaeque vices variabilis 

^ Ibid., II, I, 33-35- ^ , Quae sit in arbitrio res libera 

"Parcarum leges et ineluctabile guidve necesse." 


orbits of the stars and how human fate is under the stars," 
and he "clasped divine Aristotle to his breast." Later on, 
when Rome was hard pressed by the Carthaginians and her 
king was in captivity, he rallied her defeated forces and 
ended the war in triumph. 

"And because the fatal order demands it so shall be, 
The fates gave him this path to dominion. . . . 
Blind chance sways the silly toiling of men; 
Our world is the plaything and sport of the gods." 

The king thereupon abdicated in favor of Patricida, whom 
he addressed in these words, "O youth, on whose birth, if 
there is any power in the stars, a favorable horoscope looked 

The mother rejoiced to hear of her son's success, and 
marveled at the correctness of the astrologer's prediction, 
but was now the more troubled as to her husband's fate. He 
noticed her distraction and at last induced her to tell him 
its cause. But then, instead of being angry at the deception 
which she had practiced upon him, and instead of being 
alarmed at the prospect of his own death, he, too, rejoiced 
in his son's success, and said that he would die happy, if he 
could but see and embrace him. He accordingly made him- 
self known to his son and told him how he had once ordered 
his death but had been thwarted by the eternal predestined 
order of events, and how some day his son would slay him, 
not of evil intent but compelled by the courses of the stars. 
"And manifest is the fault of the gods in that you cannot 
be kinder to your father." 

The son thereupon determines that he will evade the 
decree of the stars by committing suicide. He is represented 
as soliloquizing as follows: 

"How is our mind akin to the ethereal stars, 
If it suffers the sad necessity of harsh Lachesis? 
In vain we possess a particle of the divine mind. 
If our reason cannot make provision for itself. 



tions put 
upon the 

God so made the elements, so made the fiery stars, 
That man is not subject to the stars." 

Patricida accordingly summons all the Romans together, 
and, after inducing them by an eloquent rehearsal of his 
great services in their behalf to grant him any boon that he 
may ask, says that his wish is to die ; and at this point the 
poem ends, leaving us uninformed whether the last part of 
the astrologer's prediction remained unfulfilled, or whether 
Patricida's suicide caused his father's death, or whether pos- 
sibly some solution was found in a play upon the word 
Patricida. Haureau, however, believed that the poem is 
complete as it stands. 

The purpose of the poet and his attitude towards astrol- 
ogy have been interpreted in diametrically opposite ways by 
different scholars. Before Haureau it was customary to at- 
tribute the poem to Hildebert, archbishop of Tours, and to 
regard it as an attack upon astrology. The early editors of 
the Histoire Littercdre de la France supported their asser- 
tion that the most judicious men of letters in the eleventh 
and twelfth centuries had only a sovereign scorn for the 
widely current astrological superstition of their time by 
citing Hildebert as ridiculing the art in his Mathematiciis} 
A century later Charles Jourdain again represented Hilde- 
bert as turning to ridicule the vain speculations of the as- 
trologers.^ Bourasse, the editor of Hildebert's works as 
they appear in Migne's Patrologia Latina, seems to have felt 
that the poem was scarcely an outspoken attack upon as- 
trology and tried to explain it as an academic exercise which 
was not to be taken seriously, but regarded as satire upon 
judicial astrology. Haureau not only denied Archbishop 
Hildebert's authorship, but took the common sense view 
that the poet believes fully in astrology. It would, indeed, 
be difficult to detect any suggestion of ridicule or satire 
about the poem. Its plot is a tragic one and it seems writ- 
ten in all seriousness. Even Patricida, despite his assertion 

*HL VII (1746) p. 137. 

' C. Jourdain, Dissertation sur 

I'etat de la philosophic 
etc., Paris, 1838, p. 116, 



that "man is not subject to the stars," does not doubt that 
he will kill his father conformably to the learned astrologer's 
prediction, if he himself continues to live. It is only by 
the tour de force of self-slaughter that he hopes to cheat 

Even Archbishop Hildebert shows a tendency towards Hilde- 
astrology in other poems attributed to him; for example, Hermaph- 

in his Nativitv of Christ and in a short poem, The Her- rodite's 

maphrodite, which reads as follows, representing the fulfill- 
ment of a horoscope : 

"While my pregnant mother bore me in the womb, 'tis 
said the gods deliberated what she should bring forth. 
Phoebus said, 'It is a boy' ; Mars, 'A girl' ; Juno, 'Neither.' 
So when I was born, I was a hermaphrodite. When I 
seek to die, the goddess says, 'He shall be slain by a 
weapon' ; Mars, 'By crucifixion' ; Phoebus, 'By drowning.' 
So it turned out. A tree shades the water ; I climb it ; the 
sword I carry by chance slips from its scabbard ; I myself 
fall upon it; my trunk is impaled in the branches; my 
head falls into the river. Thus I, man, woman, and 
neither, suffered flood, sword, and cross." ^ 

This poem has always been greatly admired by students of 
Latin literature for its epigrammatic neatness and concise- 
ness, and has been thought too good to be the work of a 
medieval writer, and has been even attributed to Petronius. 
Another version, by the medieval poet, Peter Riga, entitled 
De ortu et morte pueri nwnstruosi, is longer and far less 
elegant. Haureau, however, regarded the Hennaphrodiie 
as a medieval composition, since there are no manuscripts 
of it earlier than the twelfth century; but he was in doubt 
whether to ascribe it to Hildebert or to Matthew of Ven- 
dome, who in listing his own poems mentions hie et haec 
hermaphroditiis homo." 

* Migne, PL 171, 1446. Juno other passages cited by Bouche- 

here stands for the planet Venus : Leclercq, L'Astrologie grecque, 

see Hyginus II, 42, "Stella Vene- 1899, p. 99, note 2. 

ris, Lucifer nomine, quam non- ']. B. Haureau, Les melanges 

nulli .Tunonis esse dixerunt"; and poetiques d' Hildebert, 1882, pp. 



The art of 

of the _ 
Ex peri- 

We turn to the association of the name of Bernard 
Silvester with the superstitious art of geomancy. It may 
be briefly defined as a method of divination in which, bv 
marking down a number of points at random and then con- 
necting or canceUing them by Hnes, a number or figure is 
obtained which is used as a key to sets of tables or to 
astrological constellations. The only reason for calling this 
geomancy, that is, divination by means of the element earth, 
would seem to be that at first the marks were made and 
figures drawn in the sand or dust, like those of Archimedes 
during the siege of Syracuse. But by the middle ages, at 
least, any kind of writing material would do as well. Al- 
though a somewhat more abstruse form of superstition 
than the ouija board, it seems to have been nearly as popular 
in the medieval period as the ouija board is now. 

The name of Bernard Silvester is persistently associated 
in the manuscripts with a work bearing the title Experimen- 
tariits, which seems to consist of sets of geomantic tables 
translated from the Arabic. Its prologue is unmistakable, 
but it is less easy to make out what text should go with it 
and how the text should be arranged. Sometimes the pro- 
logue is found alone in the manuscripts,^ and the text which 
accompanies it in others varies in amount and sometimes 
is more or less mixed up with other similar modes of divina- 
tion. The prologue is sometimes headed, Ezndencia operis 
subseqitentis, and regularly subdivides into three brief sec- 
tions. The first, opening with the words, Materia ludus 
libelli, describes the subject-matter of the text as "the effect 
and efficacy of the moon and other planets and of the con- 
stellations, which they exert upon inferior things." The 
writer's opinion is that God permits mortals who make sane 
and sober inquiry to learn by subtle consideration of the 

138-47. In Digby 53, a poetical 
miscellany of the end of the 12th 
century, no author is named for 
the "De Ermaphrodito" nor for 
some other items which appear 
in the printed edition of Hilde- 
bert's poems, although Hildebert's 

name is attached to a few pieces 
in the MS. 

' Ashmole 345, late 14th cen- 
tury, fol. 64. Bodleian Auct. F. 3. 
13, fol. 104V. For a summary 
of the MSS see Appendix I at the 
close of this chapter. 




constellations many things concerning the future and per- 
sons who are absent, and that astrology also gives informa- 
tion concerning human character, health and sickness, pros- 
perity, fertility of the soil, the state of sea and air, business 
matters and journeys. In a second paragraph, opening, 
Utilitas autem huiiis lihelH, the writer states that the use 
of his book is that one may avoid the perils of which the 
stars give warning by penitence and prayers and vows to 
God who, as the astrologer Albumasar admits, controls the 
stars. And through them the Creator reveals his will, as in 
the case of the three Magi who learned from a ?tar that a 
great prophet had been born. Finally, in a paragraph of a 
single sentence, which opens with the words, Titulus vero 
talis est, we are informed that the title is the Experimentarius 
of Bernard Silvester, "not because he was the original author 
but the faithful translator from Arabic into Latin." 

In one manuscript which contains the Experimentarius Pictures 
there is twice depicted, although the second time in different 
colors, a seated human figure evidently intended to repre- 
sent Bernard Silvester. He is bearded and sits in a chair 
writing, with a pen in one hand and a knife or scalpel in 
the other. Neither miniature is in juxtaposition to the pro- 
logue in which Bernard is named, but in both cases the 
figure is accompanied by five lines of text, written alternately 
in red and blue colors and proclaiming that Bernard Silves- 
ter is the translator and that the number seven is the basis 
in this infallible book of lot-casting.^ It would not be safe, 
however, to accept this miniature as an accurate representa- 
tion of Bernard, since the manuscript is not contemporary 

of Ber- 

^ Digby 46, 14th century, fol. 
IV, the first line is blue, the next 
red, etc. 
An sors instabilis melius ferat 

ars docet eius 
In septem stabis minus una 

petens nutnerabis 
Post septem sursuni numerando 

periice cursum 
Translator Bernardus Silvester 

Hie infallibilis liber incipit 
autem peius. 

At fol. 25V, the same five lines 
except that the last line is put 
first, where it would seem to be- 
long, and is accordingly colored 
red instead of blue as before, 
the colors of the other four lines 
remaining the same as before. 



of a spy- 
and Her- 
to the 

and it contains similar portraits of Socrates and Plato, 
Pythagoras, Anaxagoras, and Cicero. 

Both in the manuscript which we have just been de- 
scribing and another of older date ^ is a picture of two per- 
sons seated. In both manuscripts one is called Euclid, in 
the older manuscript only is the other named, and desig- 
nated as Hermann. According to Black's description 
Euclid "uplifts a sphere with his right hand, and with his 
left holds a telescope through which he is observing the 
stars ; towards whom 'Hermannus,' on the other side, holds 
forth a circular instrument hanging from his fingers, which 
is superscribed 'Astrolabium.' " The picture in the other 
manuscript is similar, but in view of the fact that they were 
written in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the rod 
along which, or tube through which 'Euclid' is squinting, 
can scarcely be regarded as a telescope without more definite 
proof of the invention of that instrument before the time 
of Galileo. Perhaps it is a dioptra ~ or spying-tube of the 
sort described by the ancients, Polybius and Hero, and used 
in surveying. But I mention the picture for the further 
reason that Clerval ^ asserted a connection between Hermann 
of Dalmatia, the twelfth century translator, and Bernard 
Silvester, affirming that Hermann sent Bernard his work on 
the uses of the astrolabe and that he really translated the 
Experimentariiis from the Arabic and sent it to Bernard 
who merely versified it. But we have already proved that 
it was Hermann the Lame of the eleventh century who 
wrote on the astrolabe and that he did so a century before 
Bernard Silvester. The aforesaid picture is clearly of him 
and not of Hermann the Dalmatian. And whether the "B" 
at whose request Hermann wrote on the astrolabe be meant 

*Ashmole 304, 13th century, fol. 


' In this connection the follow- 
ing MS might prove of interest: 
CU Trinity 1352, 17th century, 
neatly written, Dioptrica Practica. 
Fol. I is missing and with it the 
full title. Cap i, de Telesco- 

piorttm ac Microscopium Inven- 
tione, diversitate, ct varictati. 
Quacstio I, Quid sunt Tclescopia 
et quomodo ac quando inventa. 
After fol. 90 is a single leaf of 

'Clerval (1895), pp. 169, 190- 


for Berengarius or Bernard, it certainly cannot be meant 
for Bernard Silvester, who was not bom yet. 

Apparently the text proper of the Experiment arius opens Text 
with the usual instructions of geomancies for the chance ^^^^ • 
casting of points and drawing of lines. The number of mentarius. 
points left over as a result of this procedure is used as a 
guide in finding the answer to the question which one has 
in mind. In a preliminary table are listed 28 subjects of 
inquiry such as life and death, marriage, imprisonment, 
enemies, gain. One turns to the topic in which one is in- 
terested and, according as the number of points obtained 
by chance is over or under seven, reckons forward or back- 
ward that many times from the number opposite his theme 
of inquiry, or, if exactly seven points were left over, 
takes the number of the theme of inquiry as he finds it. 
In one manuscript the new number thus obtained is that 
of the "Judge of the Fates" to whom one should next 
turn. There are 28 such judges, whose names are the 
Arabic designations for the 28 divisions of the circle of the 
zodiac or mansions of the moon, which spends a day 
in each of them.^ A page is devoted to each judge, under 
whose name are twenty-eight lines containing as many re- 
sponses to the twenty-eight subjects of inquiry. The in- 
quirer selects a line corresponding to his number of points 
and the tables are so arranged that he thus always receives 
the answer which fits his inquiry. But most of the manu- 
scripts, instead of at once referring the inquirer to his 
Judge as we have described, insert other preliminary tables 
in which he is first referred to a planet and then to a day 
of the moon. This unnecessarily indirect and complicated 
system is probably intended to mystify the reader and to 
emphasize further the supposedly astrological basis of the 

^ These 28 Judges, or mansions thia, Althare, Albuza, Alcoreten, 
of the moon, are seldom spelled Arpha, Alana, Asionet, Algaphar, 
twice alike in the MSS, but are Asavenu, Alakyal, Alcalu, Aleutn, 
somewhat as follows : Almazene, Avaadh, Avelde, Cathateue, Eada- 
Anatha, Albathon, Arthura, Ado- bula, Eadatauht, Eadalana, Alga- 
ran, Almusan, Atha, Avian, Ana- falmar, Algagafalui. 


procedure, whereas it is in reality purely a matter of lot- 

Two Now in most of the manuscripts which I have examined 


of the 28 there are two versions of these twenty-eight pages of Judges 

judges. Qf ^j^g Fates, worded differently, although the corresponding 

lines always seem to answer the same questions and apply 

to the same topics of inquiry as before. In the version which 

comes first, for example, the first line under the first Judge, 

Almazene or the belly of Aries, is 

Tuum indumentum durabit tempore longo 
while in the second version the same line reads, 

Hoc ornamentum decus est et fama ferentum} 
Both versions seem to be regarded as the Experimentarius 
of Bernard Silvester, for in the manuscripts where they 
occur together the first usually follow's its prologue, while 
the second is preceded by his picture and the line. Trans- 
lator Bernardus Silvesterr In one manuscript ^ the pro- 
logue is immediately followed by the second version and 
the first set of Judges does not occur. In some manu- 
scripts,^ however, the second version occurs without the 
first and without the prologue, in which cases, I think, there 
is nothing to indicate that it is by Bernard Silvester or a 
part of the Experimentarius. The first version ends in sev- 
eral manuscripts with the words, Explicit libellus de constel- 
lationibus ^ rather than some such phrase as Explicit Ex- 
perimentarius. Furthermore in some manuscripts where it 

^ In the MSS, which are very Bernardus Silvester." 

carelessly and often slovenly * Sloane 3554, fol. 13V-. 

written, the wording of these lines * Ashmole 342, early 14th cen- 

varies a good deal, for instance, tury, 1 2. 

in Digby 46, fol. iir, "Sum {sic) Ashmole 399, late 13th century, 

monumentum durabit tempore fols. 54-8. 

longo," and in CU Trinity 1404 Royal 12-C-XII, fols. 108-23. 

(II), fol. 2r, "Hoc ornamentum CU Trinity 1404 (II), 14- 15th 

est et fama parentum." century, fols. 2-16. 

* Digby 46, fol. 25V ; in Ash- Some of these MSS I have not 

mole 304 the corresponding leaf seen. 

has been cut out, probably for ° Digby 46, fol. 24V ; Ashmole 

the sake of the miniature; Sloane 304, fol. i6v; Sloane 3857, fol. 

3857, fol. 181V, omits the picture i8ov. 
but has the phrase, "Translator 




occurs alone this first set of Judges is called the book of 
Alchandiandus or Alkardianus.^ He may, however, have 
been the Arabic author and Bernard his translator, and the 
liher alkardiani phylosophi opens in at least one manuscript 
with words appropriate to the title, Expcrhnentarms , "Since 
everything that is tested by experience is experienced either 
for its own sake or on some other account." - 

There are so many treatises of this type in medieval Other 
manuscripts and they are so frequently collected in one divination 
codex that they are liable to be confused with one another. 
Thus in two manuscripts a method of divination ascribed 
to the physician of King Amalricus ^ is in such juxtaposi- 
tion to the Experimentarius that Macray takes it to be part 
of the Experimentarius, while the catalogue of the Sloane 
Manuscripts combines the two as "a compilation 'concerning 
the art of Ptolemy.' " Macray also includes in the Experi- 
mentarius a Praenostica Socratis Basilei, which is of fre- 
quent occurrence in the manuscripts, and other treatises on 
divination which are either anonymous or ascribed to 
Pythagoras and, judging from the miniatures prefixed to 
them, to Anaxagoras and Cicero, who thus again is appro- 
priately punished for having written a work against divina- 
tion. I doubt if these other modes of divination are parts 
of the Experimentarius, which often is found without them, 
as are some of them without it. But they are so much like it 
in general form and procedure that we may consider them 
now, especially as they are of such dubious date and author- 
ship that it would be difficult to place them more exactly. 

^Additional 15236, English hand 
of I3-I4th century, fols. i30-52r, 
"libellus Alchandiandi" ; BN 7486, 
14th century, fol. 30V, "Incipit 
liber alkardiani phylosophi. Cum 
omne quod experitur sit experien- 
dum propter se vel propter ali- 
ud. . . ." And see above, the 
latter pages of Chapter 30. 

^ See the preceding note. 

' Sloane 3554, fol. i- ; Digby 46, 
fols. 3r-5v, and fol. gor. But in 
both MSS it precedes the prologue 

of the Experimentarius. Macray 
was probably induced to regard 
everything in Digby 46 up to fol. 
92r as Experimentarius by the pic- 
ture of Bernard Silvester which 
occurs at fol. iv with the accom- 
panying five lines stating that he 
is the translator of "this infallible 
book." But the picture is prob- 
ably misplaced, since it occurs 
again at fol. 25V before the second 
version of the 28 Judges. 



of the 
of King 




The treatise which is assigned to the physician of King 
Amalricus and which is said to have been composed in 
memory of that monarch's great victory over the Saracens 
and Turks in Egypt, obtains its key number by revolution 
of a wheel ^ rather than by the geomantic casting of points, 
and introduces a trifle more of astrological observance. If 
on first applying the inquirer receives an unfavorable rep]y, 
he may wait for thirty days and try again, but after the 
third failure he must desist entirely. **It is not allowed to 
inquire concerning one thing more than three times." The 
twenty-eight subjects of inquiry are divided in groups of 
four among the seven planets, and the inquirer is told to 
return on the weekday named after the planet under which 
his query falls. On the day set the astrologer must further 
determine with the astrolabe when the hour of the same 
planet has arrived, and not until then may the divination by 
means of the wheel take place, as a result of which the in- 
quirer is directed as before to one of 28 Judges who in this 
case, however, are said to be associated with mansions of 
the sun ^ rather than moon. At the close of the treatise 
of the physician of King Amalricus in both manuscripts ® 
that I have examined is inserted some sceptical person's 
opinion to the effect that these methods of divination are 
subtle trifles which are not utterly useless as a means of di- 
version, but that faith should not be placed in them. The 
more apparent the devil's nets are, concludes the passage, 
the more wary the human bird will be. 

In the Prenostica or Prenosticon Socratis Basilei — 
Prognostic of Socrates the King — a number from one to 
nine is obtained by chance either by geomancy or by re- 
volving a wheel on which an image of "King Socrates" 
points his finger. The inquirer then consults a table where 
sixteen questions are so arranged in compartments desig- 

* Inset inside the thick cover of 
Digby 46 are two interlocking 
wooden cogwheels for this pur- 
pose, with 28 and 13 teeth re- 

^ In Digby 46 diagrams show- 
ing the number of stars in each 
are given. 

^ Digby 46, f ol. 5v ; Sloane 3554, 
fol. I2r. 


nated by letters of the alphabet that each question is found 
in two compartments. Say that the inquirer finds his ques- 
tion in A and E. He then consults another table where 144 
names of birds, beasts, fish, stones, herbs, flowers, cities, and 
other "species" are arranged in nine rows opposite the num- 
bers from one to nine and in sixteen columns headed by the 
sixteen possible pairs of letters such as the AE of our in- 
quirer. Looking in the row corresponding to his number 
and the column AE he obtains a name. He must then find 
this name in a series of twelve circular tables where the 
aforesaid names are listed under their proper species, each 
table containing twelve names. He now is referred on to 
one of sixteen kings of the Turks, India, Spain, Francia, 
Babylonia, the Saracens, Romania, etc. Under each king 
nine answers are listed and here at last under his original 
number obtained by lot he finds the appropriate answer.^ 

In the Prenostica Pitagorice we are assured that we may Further 
rest easy as to the integrity of the Catholic Faith being ob- 3iv?nat?on 
served, "for that does not happen of necessity which human 
caution forewarned, can avoid." It answers any one of a 
list of thirty-six questions by means of a number obtained 
by chance between one and twelve. The inquirer is referred 

* I have described the Prenos- cratis basilii." Preceding it are 
tica as it is found in Digby 46, similar methods of divination, 
fol. 4or-, with a picture at fol. beginning at fol. i2iv (or clxxxxii 
41V of Socrates seated and Plato or col. 440), "Si vis operare de 
standing behind him and point- geomancia dehes facere quatuor 
ing. Ashmole 304 has the same lineas. . . ." Evidently the fol- 
text and picture; and the text is lowing is also our treatise: CU 
practically the same in Sloane Trinity 1404 (IV), I4-I5th cen- 
3857, fols. 196-207, "Documentum tury, Iste liber dicitur Rota for- 
subscquentis considerationis quae tune in qua sunt 16 qiiestiones 
Socratica dicitur." In Additional determinate in pronosticis sen- 
15236, I3-I4th century, fols. gsr- tentiat'. (sic) basilici que sub se- 
io8r, the inquirer is first directed quentibus inscribuntur et sunt 12 
to implore divine aid and repeat spere et 16 Reges pro iudicibus 
a Paternoster and Ave Maria^ and constittiti et habent determinare 
some details are slightly different, veritatem de questionibus ante- 
hut the general method is iden- dictis cum auxilio sortium. James 
tical. The final answers are given (HI, 423) adds, "The questions, 
in French. In BN 7420A, 14th tables, spheres, and Kings fol- 
century, fol. I26r- (or clxxxxvi, low. . . ." Our treatise is also 
or col. 451), "Liber magni solacii listed in John Why tef eld's 1389 
socratis philosophi" is also essen- catalogue of MSS in Dover 
tially the same ; indeed, its open- Priory, No. 409, fol. 192V, Pronos- 
ing words are, "Pronosticis So- tica socratis phi. 



tal char- 
acter of 

other geo- 

to one of 36 birds whose pictures are drawn in the margins 
with twelve lines of answers opposite each bird. Other 
schemes of divination found with the Experimentariiis in 
some manuscripts differ from the foregoing only in the num- 
ber of questions concerning which inquiry can be made, the 
number of Judges and the names given them, the number of 
lines under each Judge, and the number of intermediate 
directory tables that have to be consulted before the final 
Judge is reached. As Judges we meet the twelve sons of 
Jacob, the thirty-six decans or thirds of the twelve signs, 
and another astrological group of twenty made up of the 
twelve signs, seven planets, and the dragon.^ 

In one manuscript ^ the directions for consulting this 
last group of Judges are given under the heading, Dociimen- 
tiim experivienti retrogradi, which like Bernard's Experi- 
mentariiis suggests the experimental character of the art of 
geomancy or the arts of divination in general. Later we 
shall hear Albertus Magnus in the Speculum astronomiae 
call treatises of aerimancy,^ pyromancy ,and hydromancy, as 
well as of geomancy "experimental books." 

Geomancies are of frequent occurrence in libraries of 
medieval manuscripts.'* Many are anonymous ^ but others 
bear the names of noted men of learning. The art must have 
had great currency among the Arabs,^ for not only are 

^ These tracts of divination are 
found in Digby 46, fols. 52r-92r, 
and partially in Ashmole 304, 
Sloane 3857, and Sloane 2472. 

* Sloane 2472, fol. 22r. 

* The word seems to be regu- 
larly so spelled in the middle ages, 
although modern dictionaries give 
only aeromancy. 

* For instance, at Munich the 
following MSS are devoted to 
works of geomancy: CLM 192, 
196, 240, 242, 276, 392, 398, 421, 
436, 456, 458, 483, 489, 541. 547, 588, 
671, 677, 905, 1 1 998, 24940, 26061, 

* For instance, Amplon. Quar- 
to 174, 14th century, fol. 120, 
Geomancia parva: Qu. 345, 14th 
century, fols. 47-50, geomancia 
cum theorica sua; Qu. 361, I4tb 

centurv, fols. 62-79, five treatises ; 
Qu. 365, fol. 83; Qu. 368, 14th 
century, fol. 30; Qu. 374, 14th 
century, fols. 1-60; Qu. 277, 14th 
century, fols. 70-76; Amplon. 
Octavo 88, 14th century, fols. 5- 
10; Amplon. Duodecimo 17, 14th 
century, fols. 27-35. Harleian 
671; 4166, 15th century; Royal 
12-C-XVI, 15th century; Sloane 
887. i6th century, fols. 3-59; 1437, 
i6th century; 2186, 17th century; 
3281, I3-I4th century, fols. 25-34, 
"Liber 28 iudicum" or "Liber par- 
carum siz'c fatorum." 

^ Additional 9600 is a geomancy 
in Aral>ic, and Addit. 8790, La 
Geomantia del S. Christoforo Cat- 
ianeo, Genonese. I'inz'entore di 
dctta Ahnadel Arabico. 




treatises current in Latin under such names as Abdallah/ 
Albedatus,^ Alcherius,^ Alkindi,^ and Alpharinus,^ but al- 
most every prominent translator of the time seems to have 
tried his hand at a geomancy. In the manuscripts we find 
geomancies attributed to Gerard of Cremona,** Plato of 
Tivoli,'^ Michael Scot,* Hugo Sanctelliensis,^ William of 
* Vatic. Urbin. Lat. 262, I4-I5th borrowed? 

century, Abdallah gcomantiae 
fragmenta. Amplon. Folio 389, 
14th century, fols. 56-99, Geo- 
mantia Abdalla astrologi cum 
figuris; perhaps the same as Math. 
47, Geomuncia cum egregiis tabu- 
lis Abdana astrologi, in the 1412 

Amplon. Quarto 380, early 14th 
century, fols. 1-47, geomancia op- 
tima Abdallah filii AH. 

Magliabech. XX-13, 15th cen- 
tury, fols. 208-10, "II libra di 
Zaccheria ebrio il quale compuose 
le tavole de giudici. Disse il 
famiglio di Abdalla. . . ." 

' Amplon, Octavo 88, early 14th 
century, fols. 1-5, geomancia Al- 
bedato attributa, fols. 107-10, Al- 
bedatii de sortilegiis. 

CLM 398, 14th century, fols. 
106-14, "Belio regi Persarum 
vates Albedatus salutem." 

BN 7486, 14th century, fol. 46r-, 
Albedaci philosophi ars punc- 
torum: here the work is ad- 
dressed to "Delyo regi Persarum" 
and is said to be translated by 
"Euclid, king and philosopher." 
It immediately follows another 
geomancy by Alkardianus, of 
whom we have spoken elsewhere. 

Berlin 965, i6th century, fol. 
64-, "Incipit liber Albedachi vatis 
Arabici de sortilegiis ad Delium 
regem Persarum I Finis adest libri 
Algabri Arabis de sortilegiis" ; 
similarly Amplonius in 1412 listed 
Math, 8, "liber subtilis valde Alga- 
bre geomaniicus ad futurorum 

■* Vienna 5508, I4-I5th century, 
fols. 200-201V, "Ego Alcherius in- 
ter mutta prodigia I nudus postea 
quolibet subhumetur." Is this the 
Alcherius mentioned by Mrs. 
Merrifield (1849) I, 54-6 as copy- 
ing in 1409 "Experiments with 
Color," from a MS which he had 

*CLM 489, i6th century, fols. 
207-22, Alchindi libellus de geo- 
mantia; also in CLM 392, 15th 

"Arundel 66, isth century, fols. 
269-77, "Liber sciencie arienalis 
de judicis gcomansie ab Alpharino 
filio Abrahe Judeo editus et a 
Platone de Hebreico sermone in 
Latinum translatus." 

CLM 1 1998, anno 1741, fol. 
209-, Alfakini Arabici filii quaes- 
tiones geomantiae a Platone in 
Latinum translatae anno 1533 
(which cannot be right). 

CU Magdalene College 27 (F. 
4.27, Haenel 2^) late 14th cen- 
tury, fols. I20-I2SV, "Incipit liber 
arenalis scicncie ab alfarino 
abizarch editus et a Platone 
Tiburtino de Arabico in latinum 

* Bologna University Library 
449, 14th century, "Geomantia ex 
Arabico translata per Magistrum 
Gerardum de Cremona. Si quis 
partem geomanticam I multum 
bonum signi." 

Magliabech XX-13, fol. 61. 

Digby 74, i5-i6th century, fols. 

Sloane 310, 15th century. 

Amplon. Quarto 373, 14th cen- 
tury, fols. 1-3 1, with notes at 

CLM 276, 14th century, fols. 
69-75, Geomantia mag. Gerardi 
Cremonensis lOb aU>ctoribus via 
astronomice conposita. 

Also printed under the title 
Geomantia astronomica in H. C. 
Agrippa, Opera, 1600, pp. 540-53. 

^ See note 5. 

*CLM 489, i6th century, fol. 
174-, Michaelis Scoti geomantia. 

'MSS of Hugo's geomancy 
have already been listed in chap- 
ter 38, p. 86. 



Moerbeke,^ William de Saliceto of Piacenza,^ and Peter 
of Abano,' and even to their medical confrere and contem- 
porary, Bernard Gordon, who is not usually classed as a 
translator.* Some of these, however, were translator? 
from the Greek or the Hebrew rather than Arabic, and some 
of the geomantic treatises in the manuscripts claim an origin 
from India.'"' But a Robert or Roger Scriptoris who com- 
piled a geomancy towards the close of the medieval period 
thinks first among his sources of "the Arabs of antiquity 
and the wise modems, William of Moerbeke, Bartholomew 
of Parma, Gerard of Cremona, and many others." ® These 
other geomancies are not necessarily like the Experimen- 
tarius of Bernard Silvester ^ and we shall describe another 

*CLM 588, 14th century, fols. 
6-58, "Incipit peomantia a fratre 
gilberto (?) de morbeca domini 
pape penitentionario compilata 
quatn magistro arnulfo nepoti suo 

CLM 905, 15th century, fols. 
1-64, Wilheltni de Morbeca Geo- 

Wolfenbiittel 2725, 14th cen- 
tury, "Geomantia fratris Guil- 
hehni dc Marbeta pcnitenciarii 
domini pape dedicata Arnulpho 
nepoti. Anno dofnini millesimo 
ducentcsimo octuagcsimo octavo. 
Hoc opus est scientie geomancie." 

Vienna 5508, I4-I5th century, 
fol. I-, "Liber geomancie editus 
a fratre Wilhelmo de Marbeta. 
Omnipotcns sempiterne Deus I 
quercnti vel in brevi." 

Amplon. Quarto 373, 14th cen- 
tury, fols. 39-118; Qu. 377, 62- 
67; Qu. 384. 

For MSS in Paris see HL 21; 

Magliabech. XX-13, isth cen- 
tury, fol. 101-, in Italian. 

CU Trinity 1447, 14th century, 
fols. i-ii2r, a French translation 
made by Walter the Breton in 
1347. He states that Moerbeke's 
Latin version was translated from 
the Greek. 

* Magliabech, XX-13, I5th cen- 
tury, fol. 210-, "del detto ^acheria 
Albigarich," translated from He- 
brew into Latin by "maestro 


'CLM 392, 15th century; 489, 
i6th century, fol. 222, Petri de 
Abano Patavini modus iudicandi 
quaestiones; in both MSS ac- 
companied by the geomancy as- 
cribed to Alkindi. Printed in 
Italian translation, 1542. 

*BN I53S3, i3-i4th century, 
fol. 87-, Archanum magni Dei 
revelatum Tholomeo regi Arabum 
de reductione geomancie ad or- 
bem, tr. de Bernard de Gordon, 
datee de 1295. 

° Harleian 2404, English hand, 
two geomancies (indeana). 

Sloane 314, 15th century, fols. 
2-64, Latin and French, "Et est 
Gremmgi Indyana, que vacatur 
aiia astronomic quam fecit unus 
sapientum Indie." 

With the opinions of Siger of 
Brabant in 1277 was condemned a 
book of geomancy which opened 
"Estimavcrunt Indi" ; Chart. Univ. 
Paris, I. 543. 

CU Magdalene College 27 (F. 
4. 27), late 14th century, fols. 72- 
88, "Hec est geomantia Indiana." 

* Sloane 3487, 15th century, 
fols. 2-193, Geomantia Ra. Scrip- 
toris. fol. 2r, "... arabcs anti- 
quissimi et sapientes moderni 
Guillelmus de morbeca, Bartholo- 
meus de Parma, Gerardus Cre- 
m^onensis, et alii plures." 

* A geomancy by Ralph of 
Toulouse, however, preserved in 


sort when we come to speak of Bartholomew of Parma in 
a later chapter. 

In the fifteenth century such intellectual statesmen as Interest oi 
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, and Henry VH of England anddSg" 
displayed an interest in geomancy, judging from a manu- in the art. 
script de luxe of Guido Bonatti's work on astrology which 
was made for Henry VH and contains a picture of him, and 
also Plato's translation of the geomancy of Alpharinus and 
geomantic "tables of Humphrey, duke of Gloucester." ^ 
The interest of the clergy in this superstitious art is attested 
not only by the translation of such a person as William of 
Moerbeke, who was papal penitentiary and later archbishop 
of Corinth, but by a geomancy which we find in two fifteenth 
century manuscripts written by Martin, an abbot of Burgos, 
at the request of another abbot of Paris,^ Treatises on 
geomancy continue to be found in the manuscripts as late as 
the eighteenth century, that of Gerard of Cremona espe- 

a 14th century MS, has, like Ber- compilatus per magistrum Mar- 

nard's, the four pages of key tinum Hispanum phisicutn abba- 

followed by the twenty-eight tern de Cernatis in ecclesia Vur- 

pages of "judges of the fates," gensi quam composuit ad preces 

from "Almatene" to "Algaga- nobilis et discreti viri domini 

lauro." Berlin 969, fol. 282-, Archimbaldi abbatis sancti As- 

"Divinaciones magistri RadulU teensis ac canonici Parisiensis." 
de Tolosa." Ashmole 360-II, fols. 15-44, 

^Arundel 66 (see above, p. 119, Explicit as above except "Bur- 
note s) ; the portrait of Henry is gensi," "Archtbaldi/' and "Astern." 
at fol. 201, at fols. 277V-87, Also by the listing of geoman- 
"Tabulae Humfridi Ducts Gljiw- cies in the medieval catalogues of 
cestriae in judiciis artis geoman- monastic libraries. See James, 
sie." Libraries of Canterbury and 

* Corpus Christi 190, fols. 11- Dover, 
52, "Explicit liber Geomancie 



Digby 46, 14th century, fols. 7V-39V. 
Ashmole 304, 13th century, fols. 2r-30v. 
Sloane 3857, 17th century, fols. 164-95. 

These three MSS are much alike both in the Experimen- 
tariiis proper and the other tracts of divination which ac- 
company it. Digby 46 has more of them than either of 
the others and more pictures than Ashmole 304. Sloane 
3857 has no pictures. I have given the numbers of the folios 
only for the Experimentarins proper. 

Sloane 2472, a quarto in skin containing 30 leaves, dated in the 
old written catalogue as late 12th, but in Scott's printed Index 
as 14th century, fols. 3r-i4v, the prologue and 22 of 28 Judges 
of the first version; fols. i5r-2iv, the last part of the method of 
divination by the 36 decans, "Thoas Index X" to "Sorab Index 
XXXVI"; fols. 23r-30v, divination by planets and signs as in 
Digby 46. 

Sloane 3554, 15th century, contains the divination of the physician 
of King Amalricus, the prologue of the Experimentarius, and 
the second set only of 28 Judges. 

The following MSS also contain only this second ver- 

Ashmole 342, early 14th century, 52. 

Ashmole 399, late 13th century, fols. 54-8. 

CU Trinity 1404 (II), I4-I5th century, fols. 2-16. 

Royal 12-C-XII, fols. 108-23, has the second version of the Ex- 
perimentarius but also a few of the other items of divination 
found in Ashmole 304. 

The first set of 28 Judges is found without mention of 
Bernard Silvester in the following MSS : 


BN 7486, 14th century, fol. 30V-, "Incipit liber alkardiani phylo- 

sophi. Cum omne quod experitur sit experiendum propter se vel 

propter aliud." 
Additional 15236, I3-I4th century, English hand, fols. i30-52r, 

"libellus Alchandiandi" ; and at fols. 95r-io8r, Prenosticon 

Socratis Basilei. 

The prologue of the Experimentarius is found alone in 

Ashmole 345, late 14th century, fol. 64, "Bernardinus." 
Bodleian (Bernard 2177, #6) Auct. F. 3. 13, fol. 104V, "Bernardini 



Was Hildegard influenced by Bernard Silvester? — (Bibliographical 
note) — Her personality and reputation — Dates of her works — 
Question of their genuineness — Question of her knowledge of 
Latin — Subject-matter of her works — Relations between science and 
religion in them — Her peculiar views concerning winds and rivers — 
Her suggestions concerning drinking-water — The devil as the negative 
principle — Natural substances and evil spirits — Stars and fallen angels ; 
sin and nature — Nature in Adam's time ; the antediluvian period — 
Spiritual lessons from natural phenomena — Hildegard's attitude toward 
magic — Magic Art's defense — True Worship's reply — Magic properties 
of natural substances — Instances of counter-magic — Ceremony with a 
jacinth and wheaten loaf — Her superstitious procedure — Use of herbs — 
Marvelous virtues of gems — Remarkable properties of fish — Use of the 
parts of birds — Cures from quadrupeds — The unicorn, weasel, and 
mouse — What animals to eat and wear — Insects and reptiles — Animal 
compounds — Magic and astrology closely connected — Astrology and 
divination condemned — Signs in the stars — Superiors and inferiors ; 
effect of stars and winds on elements and humors — Influence of the 
moon on human health and generation — Relation of the four humors 
to human character and fate — Hildegard's varying position — Nativities 
for the days of the moon — Man the microcosm — Divination in dreams. 


by Ber- 
nard Sil- 
vester ? 

The discussion of macrocosm and microcosm, notis and 
hyle, by Bernard Silvester in the De mundi universifate is 
believed by Dr. Charles Singer, in a recent essay on "The 
Scientific Views and Visions of Saint Hildegard," to have 
influenced her later writings, such as the Liber zntae nieri- 
torum and the Liber diznnoriim operuni. He writes "The 
work of Bernard . , . corresponds so closely both in form, 
in spirit, and sometimes even in phraseology to the Liber 
diznnorum opcrum that it appears to us certain that Hilde- 
gard must have had access to it." ^ Without subscribing un- 

^ Singer (1917) p. 19. 




reservedly to this view, we pass on from the Platonist and 
geomancer of Tours to the Christian "sibyl of the Rhine." ^ 

^ Migne, Patrologia Latina, vol. 
197. ihis volume contains the 
account of Hildegard in the Acta 
Sanctorum, including the Vita 
sanctae Hildcgardis auctoribus 
Godefrido et Theodorico nwna- 
chis, etc. ; the Subtilitatum diver- 
sarum naturaruni crcaturarunv 
libri novcm, as edited by Darem- 
berg and Reuss ; the Scivias and 
the Liber divinorum opcrum sim- 
plicis hominis. I shall cite this 
in the following chapter simply 
as Migne without repeating the 
number of the volume. 

Pitra, Analecta sacra, vol. VIII 
(1882). This volume contains 
the only printed edition of the 
Liber vitae mcritorutn, pp. 1-244, 
— Heinemann, in describing a 
thirteenth century copy of it (MS 
1053, S. Hildegardis liber meri- 
torum vite) in 1886 in his Cata- 
logue of Wolfenbiittel MSS, 
was therefore mistaken in speak- 
ing of it as "unprinted," — an im- 
perfect edition of the Liber com- 
positae medicinae de aegritudi- 
num caiists signis atqiic ciiris, and 
other works by Hildegard. 

A better edition of the last 
named work is : Hildegardis 
causae et curae, ed. Paulus 
Kaiser, Leipzig, Teubner, 1903. 

Earlier editions of the Subtili- 
tates were printed at Strasburg 
by J. Schott in 1533 and 1544 as 
follows : 

Physica S. Hildegardis elemen- 
torum fluniinum aliquot Ger- 
maniac mctcllorum leguminum 
fructuunt et herbarum arborutn 
et arbustorunt piscium denique 
volatilium et animantiunv terrae 
naturas et operationes IV libris 
mirabili experientia posteritati 
tradens, Argentorati, 1533. 

Expcrimentarius medicinae con- 
linois Trot u lac curandarum 
aegritudinum muliebrum . . . 
item quatuor Hildegardis de ele- 
mentorum fluminum aliquot Ger- 
maniae metallorum . . . herbarum 
piscium et animantium terrae 
naturis et operationibus, ed. G. 
Kraut, 1544, 

F. A. Reuss, De libris physicis 
S. Hildegardis comtncntatio his- 
torico-medica, VViirzburg, 1835. 

F. A. Reuss, Der heiligen Hil- 
degard Subtilitatum diversarum 
naturarutn creaturarum libri no- 
veni, die werthvolleste Urkunde 
deutscher Natur- und HcUkunde 
aus dem. Mittelalter. In Annalen 
des Vereins fUr Nassau. Alter- 
thumskunde und Geschichtsfor- 
schung, Bd. VI, Heft i, Wies- 
baden, 1859. 

Jessen, C. in Sitzb. Vienna, 
Math, naturw. Klasse, (1862) 
XLV, i. 97- 

Jessen, C. Botanik in kultur- 
historischer Entwickelung, Leip- 
zig, 1862, pp. 124-26. 

Jessen, C. in Anzciger filr 
Kunde der deutschen Vorseit, 
(1875), p. 175- 

Von der Linde, Die Hand- 
schriften der Kgl. Landesbibl. in 
Wiesbaden, Wiesbaden, 1877. 

Schmelzeis, J. Ph. Das Leben 
und Wirken der hi. Hildegardes, 
Freiburg, 1879. 

Battandier, A. "Sainte Hilde- 
garde, sa vie et ses oeuvres," in 
Revue des questions historiques, 

XXXIII (1883), 395-425. 

Roth, F. W. E. in Zeitsch. fUr 
kirchl. Wissenschaft u. kirchl. 
Leben, Leipzig, IX (1888), 453. 

Kaiser, P. Die Naturiinssen~ 
schaftliche Schriftcn der hi. 
Hildegard, Berlin. 1901. (Schul- 
progratnm des Konigsstddtischen 
Gymnasiums in Berlin.) A pam- 
phlet of 24 pages. See also his 
edition, mentioned above, of the 
Causae et curae. 

Singer, Clias. "The Scientific 
Views and Visions of Saint 
Hildegard," in Studies in the 
History and Method of Science, 
Oxford, 1917, pp. 1-55. Dr. 
Singer seems unacquainted with 
the above work by Kaiser, writing 
(p. 2) "'The extensive literature 
that has risen around the life and 
works of Hildegard has come 
from the hands of writers who 
have shown no interest in natural 
knowledge." Yet see also 


Her per- From repeated statements in the prefaces to Hildegard's 

^nTre^'^u- works, in which she tells exactly when she wrote them and 
tation. how old she was at the time, — for not only was she not 
reticent on this point but her different statements of her age 
at different times are all consistent with one another — it 
is evident that she was born in 1098. Her birthplace was 
near Sponheim. From the age of five, she tells us in the 
Scivias, she had been subject to visions which did not come 
to her in her sleep but in her wakeful hours, yet were not 
seen or heard with the eyes and ears of sense. During her 
lifetime she was also subject to frequent illness, and very 
likely there was some connection between her state of health 
and her susceptibility to visions. She spent her life from 
her eighth year in religious houses along the Nahe river, 
and in 1 147 became head of a nunnery at its mouth opposite 
Bingen, the place with which her name was henceforth con- 
nected. She became famed for her cures of diseases as well 
as her visions and ascetic life, and it is Kaiser's opinion that 
her medical skill contributed more to her popular reputation 
for saintliness than all her writings. At any rate she be- 
came very well known, and her prayers and predictions were 
much sought after. Thomas Becket, who seems to have 
been rather too inclined to pry into the future, as we shall 
see later, wrote asking for "the visions and oracles of that 
sainted and most celebrated Hildegard," and inquiring 
whether any revelation had been vouchsafed her as to the 
duration of the existing papal schism. "For in the days of 
Pope Eugenius she predicted that not until his last days 
would he have peace and grace in the city." ^ It is very 
doubtful whether St. Bernard visited her monastery and 
called the attention of Pope Eugenius III to her visions, 
but her letters - show her in correspondence with St. 
Bernard and several popes and emperors, with numerous 

Wasmann, E. "Hildegard von * Migne, 28, citing Baronius, 

Bingen als alteste deutsche Natur- Ann. 1148, from Epist. S. Thomas, 

forscherin," in Biologisches Zen- I, 171. 

tralblatt XXXHI (1913) 278-88. 'I have noted one MS of them 

Herwegen in the Kirchl. Hand- in the British Museum, Harleian 

lexicon (1908), I, 1970. 1725. 


archbishops and bishops, abbots and other potentates, to 
whom she did not hesitate to administer reproofs and warn- 
ings. For this purpose and to aid in the repression of 
heresy she also made tours from Bingen to various parts of 
Germany. There is some disagreement whether she died in 
1 179 or 1180.^ Proceedings were instituted by the pope in 
1233 to investigate her claims to sainthood, but she seems 
never to have been formally canonized. Gebenon, a Cister- 
cian prior in Eberbach, made a compendium from her 
Scivias, Liber divinorum operimi, and Letters, "because few 
can own or read her works." ^ 

As was stated above, we can date some of Hildegard's Dates of 
works with exactness. In her preface to the one entitled gardes" 
Scivias ^ she says that in the year 1 141, when she was forty- works, 
two years and seven months old, a voice from heaven bade 
her commit her visions to writing. She adds that she 
scarcely finished the book in ten years, so we infer that she 
was working at it from 1141 to 1150. This fits exactly 
with what she tells us in the preface to the Liber vitae 
meritoriim, which she was divinely instructed to write in 
1 1 58, when she was sixty years old. Moreover, she says 
that the eight years preceding, that is from 1151 to 1158, 
had been spent in writing other treatises which also appear 
to have been revealed in visions and among which were 
"siibtilitates diz'ersaruni naturarimi crcaturarimi," the title 
of another of her works with which we shall be concerned. 
On the Liber vitae meritorum she spent five years, so it 
should have been completed by 1163. In that year, the 
preface to the Liber divinorum operuni informs us, — and 
the sixty-fifth year of her life — a voice instructed her to 
begin its composition, and seven more years were required 
to complete it. This leaves undated only one of the five 

^ Migne, 84-85, 129-130. 14th century, fols. 1-29. 

'CLM 2619, 13th century, Ge- 'Early MSS of the Liber 

benonis prioris Cisterc. in Eber- Scivias simplicis hominis are 

bach, Speculum futurorum Palat Lat. 311, 12th century, 204 

temporum sive Compendium fols. ; Merton 160, early 13th cen- 

prophetiarum S. Hildegardis ; tury. 
also, at Rome, Bibl. Alex. 172, 



of their 

works by her which we shall consider, namely, the Causae 
et curae, or Liber compositae medichiae as it is sometimes 
called, while the Suhtilitates diversarum naturarum crea- 
turanim bears a corresponding alternative title, Liher 
shnplicis medicinae. 

"Some would impugn the genuineness of all her writ- 
ings," says the article on Hildegard in The Catholic Ency- 
clopedia, "but without sufficient reason." ^ Kaiser, who 
edited the Causae ct curae, had no doubt that both it and 
the Suhtilitates were genuine works. Recently Singer has 
excluded them both from his discussion of Hildegard's sci- 
entific views on the ground that they are probably spurious, 
but his arguments are unconvincing. His objection that 
they are full of German expressions which are absent in her 
other works is of little consequence, since it would be natural 
to employ vernacular proper names for homely herbs and 
local fish and birds and common ailments, while in works 
of an astronomical and theological character like her other 
visions there would be little reason for departing from the 
Latin. Anyway Hildegard's own assertion in the preface 
of the Liher vitae meritorum is decisive that she wrote that 
work. The almost contemporary biography of her also 
states that she wrote "certain things concerning the nature 
of man and the elements, and of diverse creatures," ^ which 
may be a blanket reference to the Causae et curae as well as 
the Suhtilitates diversarum naturarum creaturarum. The 
records which we have of the proceedings instituted by the 
pope in 1233 to investigate Hildegard's title to sainthood 
mention both the Liber simplicis medicinae and Liher com- 
positae medicinae as her works ; and later in the same century 
Matthew of Westminster ascribed both treatises to her, stat- 

" Citing Preyer, Gesch. d. 
deutsch. Mystik. 1874; Hauck, 
Kirchcngesch, Deutsch. IV, 308 ; 
Von Winterfeld, Neue Archiv, 
XXVII, 297. 

' Migne, loi, quaedam de na- 
tura hotntnis et elementorum, 
diversarumque creaturarum. Sing- 

er, taking the words as an exact 
title of one work, tries to deny 
that they apply even to the Sub- 
tilitatcs: hut the writer of the 
I 'ita is obviously simply giving 
a general idea of the subjects 
treated by Hildegard. 


ing further that the Liber simplicis medicinae secundum 
creationem was in eight books and giving the full title of 
the other as Liber compositae medicinae de aegritudinum 
causis signis et curis} Kaiser has pointed out a number of 
parallel passages in it and the Subtilitates, while its intro- 
ductory cosmology seems to me very similar to that of 
Hildegard's other three works. Indeed, as we consider the 
contents of these five works together, it will become evident 
that the same peculiar views and personality run through 
them all. 

In the preface to the Liber vitae meritorum Hildegard Question 
speaks of a man and a girl who gave her some assistance Lrd's ^" 
in writing out her visions.^ From such passages in her own knowledge 
works and from statements of her biographers and other 
writers ^ it has been inferred that she was untrained in 
Latin grammar and required literary assistance.^ Or some- 
times it is said that she miraculously became able to speak 
and write Latin without having ever been instructed in that 
language.^ Certainly the Causae et curae is a lucid, con- 
densed, and straightforward presentation which it would 
be very difficult to summarize or excerpt. One must read 
it all, for further condensation is impossible. One can 
hardly say as much for her other works, but a new critical 
edition of them such as the Causae et curae has enjoyed 
might result in an improvement of the style. But our con- 
cern is rather with their subject-matter. 

Three of the five works which we shall consider are 
written out in the form of visions, and are primarily re- 

^ In what is so far the only testimonio cuiusdam puellae mihi 

known extant copy, a thirteenth assistentis manus ad ascribendum 

century MS at Copenhagen, posui." 

which Jessen discovered in 1859 ^ Vincent of Beauvais, Specu- 

and called attention to in 1862 liim historiale, XXVII, 83, and 

(Act. Acad. Vindob., XLV, i. 97- other actors cited from the Acta 

116), the Titulus is Causae et Sanctorum in Migne, col. 197. 

curae (shown in facsimile by * This may be a further explana- 

Singer (1917), Plate 5a.) lion of the use of German words 

^ Pitra, 7-8, "Et ego testimonio in some of her works and their 

hominis illius quem ut in priori- absence in others, 

bus visionibus praef ata sum oc- ° Migne, 17, 19-20, 73-74, 93, lOl. 
culte quaesieram et inveneram et 



matter of 

ligious in their contents but contain considerable cosmology 
and some human anatomy, as well as some allusions to 
magic and astrology. The other two deal primarily with 
medicine and natural science, and give no internal indica- 
tion of having been revealed in visions, presenting their 
material in somewhat didactic manner, and being divided 
into books and chapters, like other medieval treatises on the 
same subjects. As printed in Migne, the Subtleties of 
Different Natural Creatures or Book of Medicinal 
Simples is in nine books dealing respectively with plants, 
elements, trees, stones, fish, birds, animals, reptiles, and 
metals. In this arrangement there is no plan evident ^ and 
it would seem more logical to have the books on plants and 
trees and stones and metals together. In Schott's edition 
of 1533 the discussion of stones was omitted — perhaps 
properly, since Matthew of Westminster spoke of but eight 
books — and the remaining topics were grouped in four books 
instead of eight as in Migne. First came the elements, then 
metals, then a third book treating of plants and trees, and 
a fourth book including all sorts of animals.^ That the 
Subtleties was a widely read and influential work is indi- 
cated by the number of manuscripts of it listed by Schmel- 
zeis and Kaiser. Of the five books of the Causae et curae 
the first, beginning with the creation of the universe, Hyle, 
the creation of the angels, fall of Lucifer, and so forth, 
deals chiefly with celestial phenomena and the waters of 
the sea and firmament. The second combines some discus- 
sion of Adam and Eve and the deluge with an account of 
the four elements and humors, human anatomy, and various 
other natural phenomena.^ With book three the listing of 

^ It is, however, flie order in at 
least one of the MSS, Wolfen- 
biittel 3591, 14th century, fols. i- 
174, except that the second book 
is called Of rivers instead of, 
Of elements: "B. Hildcgardis 
Physica scu liber subtilitatum dc 
diversis crcaturis, scilicet f. 2 de 
herbis, f. 62 de Huminibiis, f. 67 
de arboribus, f. 90 de lapidibus 
preciosis, f. io6v de piscibus, f. 

120 de volatilibus, f. 141 de ani- 
malibus, f. 162 de vermibus, f. 
168 de me t alii s." 

" It was, however, subdivided 
into three parts, treating respec- 
tively of fish, fowl, and other ani- 

' The variety and confusing or- 
der of its contents may be best 
and briefly indicated by a list of 
chapter heads (pp. 33-52) : De 


cures begins and German words appear occasionally in 
the text. 

So much attention to the Biblical story of creation and of Relations 
Adam and Eve as is shown in the first two books of the science 
Caitsae et curae might give one the impression that Hilde- ^"4 . 
gard's natural science is highly colored by and entirely sub- in them, 
ordinated to a religious point of view. But this is not quite 
the impression that one should take away. A notable thing 
about even her religious visions is the essential conformity 
of their cosmology and physiology to the then prevalent 
theories of natural science. The theory of four elements, 
the hypothesis of concentric spheres surrounding the earth, 
the current notions concerning veins and humors, are in- 
troduced with slight variations in visions supposed to be 
of divine origin. In matters of detail Hildegard may make 
mistakes, or at least differ from the then more generally 
accepted view, and she displays no little originality in giving 
a new turn to some of the familiar concepts, as in her 
five powers of fire, four of air, fifteen of water, and seven 
of earth. ^ But she does not evolve any really new prin- 
ciples of nature. Possibly it is the spiritual application of 
these scientific verities that is regarded as the pith of the 
revelation, but Hildegard certainly says that she sees the 
natural facts in her visions. The hypotheses of past and 
contemporary natural science, somewhat obscured or dis- 
torted by the figurative and mystical mode of description 
proper to visions, are embodied in a saint's reveries and 

Adae casu, de spermate, de con- de came, de generatione , de 

ceptu, quare homo hirsutus est, Adae vivificatione, de Adae 

de reptilibus, de volatilibus, de prophetia, de anintae infusione, 

piscibus, de conceptus diversitate, de Adae somno, de Evae malitia, 

de infirmitatibus, de contincntia, de exilic Adae, quare Eva prius 

de inconti>v£ntia, de Aegmaticis, cecidit, de diluvio, quare filii Dei, 

de melanchoUs, de melancholice de lapidum gignitione, de iri, de 

morbo, de elcmcntorum commix- terrae situ, quod homo constat 

tione, de rore, de pruina, de ne- de dementis, de Hegmate diver- 

bula, quod quatuor sunt elementa sitate, de humoribus, de frenesi, 

tantum, de anima et spiritibus, de contractis, de stultis, de pa- 

de Adae creatione, de capillis, de ralysi. 

interioribus hominis, de auribus, ^Causae et curae, pp. 20 and 

de oculis et naribus, quod in ho- 30. 
m,ine sunt elementa, de sanguine. 



ing winds 
and rivers. 

utilized in inspired revelation. Science serves religion, it 
is true, but religion for its part does not hesitate to accept 

We cannot take the time to note all of Hildegard's 
minor variations from the natural science of her time, but 
may note one or two characteristic points in which her 
views concerning the universe and nature seem rather daring 
and unusual, not to say crude and erroneous. In the Scivias 
she represents a blast and lesser winds as emanating from 
each of four concentric heavens which she depicts as sur- 
rounding the earth, namely, a sphere of fire, a shadowy 
sphere like a skin, a heaven of pure ether, and a region of 
watery air under it.^ In the Liber diz'hionim operum she 
speaks of winds which drive the firmament from east to 
west and the planets from west to east.- In the Suhtilitates 
Hildegard seems to entertain the strange notion that rivers 
are sent forth from the sea like the blood in the veins of 
the human body.^ One gets the impression that the rivers 
flow up-hill toward their sources, since one reads that "the 
Rhine is sent forth by the force of the sea" '^ and that 
"some rivers go forth from the sea impetuously, others 
slowly according to the winds." 

Since Hildegard lived on the Nahe or Rhine all her life 
she must indeed have been absorbed in her visions and 
monastic life not to have learned in which direction a river 
flows; and perhaps we should supply the explanation, which 
she certainly does not expressly give in the Subtilitates, 
that the sea feeds the rivers by evaporation or through sub- 

'Migne, 403-4. 

'Migne, 791-95- 

'Subtilitates, II, 3 (Migne, 
1212), Mare ftumina emittit quibus 
terra irrigatur vclut sanguine 
venarum corpus hojuinis. 

* Subtilitates, II, 5 (Mi^'pe), 
Rhenus a viari impetu emiititur. 
Singer (p. 14) is so non-plussed 
by this that he actually interprets 
mari as the lake of Constance, 
and asks, questioning Hildegard's 
authorship of the Subtilitates, 

"How could she possibly derive 
all rivers, Rhine and Danube, 
Meuse and Aloselle, Nahe and 
Glan, from the same lake, as does 
the author of the Liber subtili- 

That all waters, fresh or salt, 
came originally from the sea is 
asserted in the Sccrctmn Secre- 
tprum of the Pseudo-Aristotle, as 
edited by Roger Bacon : Steele 
(1920), p. 90. 




terranean passages. Perhaps a passage in the Causae et 
curae may be taken as a correction or explanation of the 
preceding assertions, in which case that work would seem 
to be of later date than the Siibtilitates. In it too Hildegard 
states that "springs and rivers" which "flow from the sea" 
are better in the east than in the west, but her next sentence 
straightway adds that they are salt and leave a salt deposit 
on the sands where they flow which is medicinal.^ The 
waters rising from the southern sea are also spoken of by 
her as salt.^ Even in the Causae et curae she speaks of the 
water of the great sea which surrounds the world as form- 
ing a sort of flank to the waters above the firmament.^ 

On the subject of whether waters are wholesome to 
drink or not Hildegard comes a trifle nearer the truth and 
somewhat reminds us of the discussions of the same subject drinking- 
in Pliny and Vitruvius.* She says that swamp water should 
always be boiled,^ that well water is better to drink than 
spring-water and spring-water than river water, which 
should be boiled and allowed to cool before drinking; ^ that 
rain-water is inferior to spring-water '^ and that drinking 
snow-water is dangerous to the health.^ The salt waters 
of the west she regards as too turbid, while the fresh waters 
of the west are not warmed sufficiently by the sun and should 
be boiled and allowed to cool before using.^ The salt 
waters arising from the south sea are venomous from the 
presence in them of worms and small animals. Southern 
fresh waters have been purged by the heat, but make the 

tions con- 

^Causae et curae (1903), p. 24. 

^Ibid., p. 25. 

'Ibid., p. 23. 

*See Vitruvius, Book VIII, 
chapters 2-4, on "Rain-water," 
"Various Properties of Different 
Waters," and "Tests of Good 
Water." Pliny, NH, Book XXXI, 
chapters 21-23, on "The Whole- 
someness of Waters", "The Im- 
purities of Water," "Modes of 
Testing Water." 

* Causae et curae (1903), p. 27. 

Ubid., p. 28. 

' Vitruvius held that rain-water 

was unusually wholesome, but 
Pliny disputed this notion. 

^Causae et curae (1903), p. 30, 
"si quis earn bibit, ulcera et sca- 
bies in eo saepissime crescunt ac 
viscera eius livore implentur." 
Pliny noted the belief that ice- 
water and snow-water were un- 
healthy, and both he (XXXVII, 
II) and Vitruvius speak of Alpine 
streams which cause diseases or 
swellings in the throat. 

^Causae et curae (1903), gp. 


flesh of men fatty and of black color.^ Hildegard is not 
the first author to advise the boiling of drinking-water,- but 
she certainly lays great stress on this point. 
The devil While the scheme of the universe put forward by an- 

ne^ative cient and medieval science is, as we have seen, on the whole 
principle, adopted even in Hildegard's most visionary writings, it is 
equally true that the religious interest is by no means absent 
from her two works of medicine and natural history. In 
the first place, the devil is a force in nature which she often 
mentions. Her opening the Causae et curac with a dis- 
cussion of creation — of course a usual starting-point with 
the medieval scientist — soon leads her to speak of the fall 
of Lucifer. She has a rather good theory that Lucifer in 
his perverse will strove to raise himself to Nothing, and 
that since what he wished to do was Nothing, he fell into 
nothingness and could not stand because he could find no 
foundation under him.^ But after the devil was unable to 
create anything out of nothing and fell from heaven, God 
created the firmament and sun, moon, and stars to show how 
great He was and to make the devil realize what glory he 
had lost.^ Other creatures who willingly join themselves to 
the devil lose their own characteristics and become nothing.^ 
Lucifer himself is not permitted to move from Tartarus or 
he would upset the elements and celestial bodies, but a 

^ Causae et curae (1903), p. 26. retrogression to Pliny's view. 

* Both Vitruvius and Pliny ^Causae et curac (1903), p. i. 
mention the practice, and the lat- Somewhat similarly Moses Mai- 
ter calls it an invention of the monides, the Jewish philosopher, 
emperor Nero. A note, however, who was born thirty-seven years 
in Bostock and Riley's transla- after Hildegard, held that evil 
tion of the Natural History states was mere privation and that the 
that Galen ascribed the practice personal devil of scripture was 
to Hippocrates and that Aristotle an allegorical representation 
was undoubtedly acquainted with thereof. He also denied the ex- 
it. When Pliny goes on to say, istence of demons, but considered 
"Indeed, it is generally admitted belief in angels as second only 
that all water is more wholesome in importance to a belief in God. 
when it has been boiled," another See Finkelscherer (1894) pp. 40- 
translator's note adds, "This is 51 ; Mischna Commentary to 
not at all the opinion at the Aboda-zara, IV, 7; Levy (1911) 
present day," that is, 1856. But 89-90. 

apparently the progress of medi- * Causae et curae (1903), p. ll. 

cal and biological science since ^ Ibid., p. 5. 
1856 has been in this respect a 




throng of demons of varying individual strength plot with 
him against the universe.^ But in other passages Hildegard 
seems to admit freely the influence, if not the complete pres- 
ence, of the devil in nature. And he has the power of de- 
ceiving by assumed appearances, as Adam was seduced by 
the serpent. 

Indeed, the dragon to this day hates mankind and has Natural 
such a nature and such diabolical arts in itself that some- an/evil^^' 
times when it emits its fiery breath, the spirits of the air spirits, 
disturb the air.- This illustrates a common feature of 
Hildegard's natural history and pharmacy; namely, the as- 
sociation of natural substances with evil spirits either in 
friendly or hostile relationships. In the preface to the first 
book of the Subtleties she states that some herbs cannot be 
endured by demons, while there are others of which the 
devil is fond and to which he joins himself. In mandragora, 
for example, "the influence of the devil is more present than 
in other herbs ; consequently man is stimulated by it accord- 
ing to his desires, whether they be good or bad." ^ On the 
other hand, the holm-oak is hostile to the spirits of the air; 
one who sleeps under its shade is free from diabolical illu- 
sions, and fumigating a house with it drives out the evil 
spirits.* Certain fish, too, have the property of expelling 
demons, whether one eats them or burns their livers or 
bones. ^ Finally, stones and metals have their relations to 
evil spirits. It is advisable for a woman in childbirth to 
hold the gem jasper in her hand, "in order that malignant 
spirits of the air may be the less able to harm her and her 
child; for the tongue of the ancient serpent extends itself 
towards the perspiration of the child, as it emerges from 
the mother's womb." ^ Not only does the touch of red-hot 
steel weaken the force of poison in food or drink, but that 
metal also signifies the divinity of God, and the devil flees 
from and avoids it.'^ 

* Causae et curae, pp. 57-58, 
'Subtleties, VIII, i. 
^Ibid., I, 56. 
*Ihid.. Ill, 25. 

'Ihid., V, I and 4. 
'Ibid., IV, 10. 
Ibid.. IX, 8. 



Stars and 
angels : 
sin and 

in Adam's 
time : the 

It is perhaps not very surprising that we should find 
in Hildegard's works notions concerning nature which we 
met back in the Enoch Hterature, since some of her writings 
take the same form of recorded visions as Enoch's, while 
one of them, the Liber vitae meritorum, is equally apoca- 
lyptic. At any rate, in the Sciznas in the second vision, 
where Lucifer is cast out of glory because of his pride, the 
fallen angels are seen as a great multitude of stars, as in 
the Book of Enoch, and we are told that the four elements 
were in harmony before Lucifer's fall.^ The disturbing 
effect of sin, even human, upon nature is again stated in 
the Causae et curae, where it is said that normally the ele- 
ments serve man quietly and perform his works. B'^t when 
men engage in wars and give way to hate and envy, the 
elements are apt to rage until men repent and seek after 
God again. ^ In the Liber vitae meritorum, too, the elements 
complain that they are overturned and upset by human 
depravity and iniquity.^ 

The influence of the Christian religion is further shown 
and that of the Bible in particular is manifested by numer- 
ous allusions to Adam and the earliest period of Biblical 
history, but very few of them find any justification in the 
scriptural narrative. Thus the Liber divinorum operum 
states ^ that after the fall of Adam and before the deluge 
the sun and moon and planets and other stars were "some- 
what turbulent from excessive heat," and that the men of 
that time possessed great bodily strength in order that they 
might endure this heat. The deluge reduced the tempera- 
ture and men since have been weaker. In the preface to 
the fifth book of the Subtleties we are told that there are 
certain plants which fish eat, and which, if man could pro- 
cure and eat, would enable him to go without food for four 
or five months. Adam used to eat them at times after he 

*Migne, 387-9. 

* (1903) p. 57. 

*II, I, "Querela elementorum. 
'Nam homines pravis operibus 
suis velut molendinum subvertunt 

nos.' Ill, 23, "Quod elementa 
humanis iniquitatibus subver- 

* Migne, 966. 


had been cast out of Eden, but not when he could get 

enough other food, as they make the flesh tough. In the 

preface to the eighth book Hildegard says that all creatures 

were good before Adam's fall, but when Abel's blood stained 

the soil noxious humors arose from which venomous and 

deadly reptiles were generated. These perished in the 

deluge, but others were generated from their putrefying 

carcasses. In the Causae et curae, too, the names of Adam 

and Eve occasionally appear in the chapter headings, for 

instance, "Of Adam's fall and of melancholy." ^ 

Hildegard also held the view, common among medieval Spiritual 

Christian writers, that one purpose of the natural world about from"^ 

us is to illustrate the spiritual world and life to come, and natural 

.... phe- 
that invisible and eternal truths may be manifested in visible nomena. 

and temporal objects. In the Scivias she hears a voice 
from heaven saying, "God who established all things by 
His will, created them to make His Name known and 
honored, not only moreover showing in the same what are 
visible and temporal, but also manifesting in them what are 
invisible and eternal." ^ But neither Hildegard nor medie- 
val Christians in general thought that the only purpose of 
natural phenomena and science was to illustrate spiritual 
truth and point a moral. But this always constituted a good 
excuse which sounded well when one of the clergy wished 
to investigate or write about things of nature. Not that 
we mean to question the sincerity of the medieval writers 
one whit more than that of certain "Christian colleges" of 
the present which deem it wise to demonstrate their piety 
and orthodoxy by maintaining compulsory chapel attend- 
ance and holding an occasional "Convocation." But cer- 
tainly our abbess of Bingen in the course of her writings, 
especially the Subtleties and Causae et curae, lists many 
natural phenomena and medical recipes without making 
any mention of what spiritual truth they may or may not 

* (1903). P- 143. ' Migne, 404-405. 











Associating natural substances as much with the devil 
or spirits of the air as she does, it is not surprising that 
Hildegard believes in the reality of magic and has some- 
thing to say about it. Magic is regarded by Hildegard as 
an evil and diabolical art. She describes it in a vision of 
the Sciz'ias, where God Himself is represented as speaking, 
as the art of seeing and hearing the devil, which was taught 
to men by Satan himself.^ Similarly in the Liber divinorum 
operum it is stated that Antichrist will excel "in all dia- 
bolical arts" and in "the magic art." ^ This was of course 
the usual Christian view. In the Liber vitae meritorum 
with more apparent originality Magic or Maleiicium is pre- 
sented as one of the personified Vices and is allowed to 
speak for itself. It is represented as having the body of 
a dog, the head of a wolf, and the tail of a lion. This 
beast or image speaks in its own praise and defense as 

"Of Mercury and other philosophers I will say many 
things, who by their investigations harnessed the elements 
in such wise that they discovered most certainly everything 
that they wished. Those very daring and very wise men 
learned such things partly from God and partly from evil 
spirits. And why shouldn't they? And they named the 
planets after themselves, since they had made many investi- 
gations and learned a great deal concerning the sun and 
moon and stars. I, moreover, rule and reign wherever I 
list in those arts, forsooth in the heavenly luminaries, in 
trees and herbs and all that grows in the earth, and in beasts 
and animals upon the earth, and in worms both above and 
below the earth. And on my marches who is there that 
resists me? God created all things, so in these arts I do 
Him no injury. For He wishes it, as is proved in His 
scriptures and perfect works. And what would be the ad- 
vantage, if His works were so blind that no cause could 
be studied in them? There wouldn't be any." ^ 

* Vision III, Migne, 410. ^ Pitra (1882) Vitae meritorum, 

' Vision X, 2S> and 32, Migne, V, 6-7. 
1028 and 1032. 




To this bold attempt of Magic to identify itself with 
scientific investigation, the True Worship of God responds 
with the counter question, "Whether it is more pleasing 
to God to adore Him or His works?" and reminds 
Maleficiimi that mere creatures which proceed from God 
can give life to no one and that man is the only rational 
created being. "You, moreover, O Magic Art, have the 
circle without the center, and while you investigate many 
problems in the circle of creation . . . you have robbed 
God of His very name." This reply does not seem to sepa- 
rate magic and scientific investigation or to deny Magic's 
claim that they are identical, and its force would seem about 
as cogent against science as against magic. But a little 
later in the same work Hildegard reverts to her former 
charge that maleficiimi is "by diabolical arts," and that its 
devotees "by directing all their works to impurity turn their 
science also to the pursuit of evils." "For they name demons 
as their gods and worship them instead of God." ^ 

That magic, however diabolical it may be, does employ 
natural forces and substances, is not only asserted by Magic 
Art itself, but freely admitted by Hildegard in her discus- 
sions of the properties of animals, plants, and minerals in 
her other two works, the Subtleties of Diverse Creatures 
and Cases and Cures. In the latter work she states that 
while herbs in the east are full of virtue and have a good 
odor and medicinal properties, those in the west are potent 
in the magic art and for other phantasms but do not con- 
tribute much to the health of the human body.^ In the 
former work she tells that the tree-toad is much employed 
in diabolical arts, especially when the trees are beginning 
to leaf and blossom, since at this time the spirits of the 
air are especially active.^ Sometimes, however, there is a 
way to remove this magic virtue from a natural substance. 
The root mandragora "is no longer efficacious for magic and 
fantastic purposes," if it is purified in a fountain for a 


reply to 

of natu- 
ral sub- 

* Vitae meritorum, V, 32. 
'Causae et curae (1903) 31-32. 

^ Subtleties, Vlll, 6. 



of coun- 

day and a night immediately after it has been dug from 
the earth. ^ 

There are also substances which counteract magic. It 
has Httle force in any place where a fir-tree grows, for the 
spirits of the air hate and avoid such spots.- In the Causae 
et curae Hildegard tells how to compound a powder "against 
poison and against magic words." ^ It also "confers health 
and courage and prosperity on him who carries it with him." 
First one takes a root of geranium (storkesnabil) with its 
leaves, two mallow plants, and seven shoots of the plantag- 
enet. These must be plucked at midday in the middle of 
April. Then they are to be laid on moist earth and sprinkled 
with water to keep them green for a while. Next they are 
dried in the setting sun and in the rising sun until the third 
hour, when they should once more be laid on moist earth 
and sprinkled with water until noon. Then they are to be 
removed and placed facing the south in the full sunshine 
until the ninth hour, when they should be wrapped in a 
cloth, with a stick on top to hold them in place, until a 
trifle before midnight. Then the night begins to incline 
towards day and all the evils of darkness and night begin 
to flee. A little before midnight, therefore, they should be 
transferred to a high window or placed above a door or 
in some garden where the cool air may have access to them. 
As soon as midnight is passed, they are to be removed once 
more, pulverized with the middle finger, and put in a new 
pill-box with a little hisemuni to keep them from decaying 
but not a sufficient quantity to overcome the scent of the 
herbs. A little of this powder may be applied daily to the 
eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, or it may be bound on the 
body as an antiaphrodisiac, or it may be held over wine 
without touching it but so that its odor can reach the wine, 
which should then be drunk with a bit of saffron as a pre- 
ventive of indigestion, poison, magic, and so forth. 

^Subtleties, I, 56. 
*Ibid., Ill, 23. 

(1903), p. 196. 




In the Suhtilitates ^ the following procedure is recom- 
mended, if anyone is bewitched by phantasms or magic 
words so that he goes mad. Take a wheaten loaf and cut 
the upper crust in the form of a cross. First draw a jacinth 
through one line of the cross, saying, "May God who cast 
away all the preciousness of gems from the devil when he 
transgressed His precept, remove from you N. all phantasms 
and magic words and free you from the ill of this mad- 
ness." Then the jacinth is to be drawn through the other 
arm of the cross and this formula is to be repeated, "As 
the splendor which the devil once possessed departed from 
him because of his transgression, so may this madness which 
harasses N. by varied phantasies and magic arts be removed 
from you and depart from you." The ceremony is then 
completed by the bewitched person eating the bread around 
the cross. 

These two illustrations make it apparent that Hildegard 
has a licit magic of her own which is every whit as super- 
stitious as the magic art which she condemns. It is evident 
that she accepts not only marvelous and occult virtues of 
natural substances such as herbs and gems, but also the 
power of words and incantations, and rites and ceremonies 
of a most decidedly magical character. In the second pas- 
sage this procedure assumed a Christian character, but the 
plucking and drying of the herbs in the first passage perhaps 
preserves the flavor of primitive Teutonic or Celtic pagan- 
ism. Nor is such superstitious procedure resorted to merely 
against magic, to whose operations it forms a sort of 
homeopathic counterpart. It is also employed for ordinary 
medicinal purposes, and is a characteristic feature of Hilde- 
gard's conception of nature and whole mental attitude. This 
we may further illustrate by running through the books of 
the Suhtilitates. 

Except for passages connecting the devil with certain 
herbs which we have already noted, Hildegard's discussion 
of vegetation is for the most part limited to medicinal prop- 

*IV, 2. 


with a 






Use of 


erties of herbs, which are effective without the addition of 
fantastic ceremonial. Sometimes nevertheless the herbs are 
either prepared or administered in a rather bizarre fashion. 
Insanity may be alleviated, we are told, by shaving the 
patient's head and washing it in the hot water in which 
agrimonia has been boiled, while the hot herbs themselves 
are bound in a cloth first over his heart and then upon his 
forehead and temples.^ An unguent beneficial alike for di- 
gestive and mental disorders is made of the bark, leaves, and 
bits of the green wood of the fir-tree, combined with saliva 
to half their weight. This mess is to be boiled in water 
until it becomes thick, then butter is to be added, and the 
whole strained through a cloth.- The mandragora root 
should first be worn bound between the breast and navel for 
three days and three nights, then divided in halves and these 
bound on the thighs for three days and three nights. Finally 
the left half of the root, which resembles the human figure, 
should be pulverized, camphor added to it, and eaten. ^ If 
a man is always sad and in the dumps, after purifying the 
mandragora root in a fountain, let him take it to bed with 
him, hold it so that it will be warmed by the heat of his body, 
and say, "God, who madest man from the dust of the earth 
without grief, I now place next me that earth which has 
never transgressed" — Hildegard has already stated that the 
mandragora is composed "of that earth of which Adam was 
created" — "in order that my clay may feel that peace just 
as Thou didst create it." That the prayer or incantation is 
more essential than the virtue of the mandragora in this 
operation, is indicated by the statement that shoots of beech, 
cedar, or aspen may be used instead of the mandragora. 
Marvelous Other marvelous effects than routing the devil, which 

o'/Kems Hildegard attributes to gems in the course of the fourth 
book of the Suhtilitates, are to confer intellect and science 
for the day, to banish anger and dulness, bestow an equable 
temper, restrain lust, cure all sorts of diseases and infirmi- 

"^ Subtleties, I, 114. "/fciJ.. I, 56. 

' Ibid.. Ill, 23. 



ties, endow with the gift of sound speech, prevent thefts at 
night, and enable one to fast. These marvelous results are 
produced either by merely having the stone in one's posses- 
sion, or by holding it in the hand, placing it next the skin, 
taking it to bed with one and warming it by the heat of the 
body, breathing on it, holding it in the mouth especially 
when fasting, suspending it about the neck, or making the 
sign of the cross with it. In the cure of insanity by use 
of the magnet the stone should be moistened with the pa- 
tient's saliva and drawn across his forehead while an in- 
cantation is repeated.^ A man may be brought out of an 
epileptic fit by putting an emerald in his mouth.^ Having 
recovered, he should remove the gem from his mouth and 
say, "As the spirit of the Lord filled the earth, so may His 
grace fill the temple of my body that it may never be moved." 
This ceremony is to be repeated on nine successive morn- 
ings, and that here the gem is as important as the prayer is 
indicated by the direction that the patient should have the 
gem with him each time and take it out and look at it as he 
repeats the incantation. Different is the procedure for 
curing epilepsy by means of the gem achates.^ In this case 
the stone should be soaked in water for three days at the 
full moon; this water should be slightly warmed, and then 
preserved, and all the patient's food cooked in it dum lima 
tota crescat. The gem should also be placed in everything 
that he drinks. This astrological procedure is to be re- 
peated for ten months. 

We have already heard that certain fish have the prop- Remark- 
erty of expelling demons. Fish also have other remarkable ertfesof'" 
virtues. The eye of a copprea, worn in a gold or silver ring ^sh. 
so that it touches one's finger, arouses a sluggish intellect.* 
The lung of a tunny fish, taken in water, is good for a fever, 
and it keeps one in good health to wear shoes and a belt 
made of its skin.^ Pulverized salmon bones are recom- 

^ Subtleties, IV, 18. 
^Ibid., IV, I. 
'Ibid., IV, 16. 

* Ibid., V, 8. 
^bid., V, I. 


mended for bad teeth.^ But eating the head of a barbo 
gives one a headache and fever. ^ Hildegard also tells some 
wonderful stories concerning the modes of generation of 
different varieties of fish. In the Causae et curae ^ for dim- 
ness of the eyes it is recommended to dry some walrus skin 
in the sun, soften it in pure wine, and apply it in a cloth 
between the eyes at night. It should be removed at mid- 
night and applied only on alternate nights for a week. 
"Either it will remove dimness of the eyes, or God does not 
permit this to be done." 
Use of the To render available or to enhance the occult virtues of 

bfrds° birds Hildegard suggests a great amount of complicated 
ceremonial. The heart of a vulture, split in two, dried be- 
fore a slow fire and in the sun, and worn sewn up in a 
belt of doeskin, makes one tremble in the presence of 
poison.^ This is explained by the vulture's own antipathy 
to poison, which is increased and purified by the fire, sun, 
and especially by the belt, for the doe is swifter and more 
sensitive than other animals. Mistiness is marvelously re- 
moved from the eyes by catching a nightingale before day- 
break, adding a single drop of dew found on clean grass 
to its gall, and anointing the eyebrows and lashes frequently 
with the same.^ Another eye-cure consists in cooking a 
heron's head in water, removing its eyes, alternately drying 
them in the sun and softening them in cold water for three 
successive times, pulverizing and dissolving them in wine, 
and at night frequently touching the eyes and lids with the 
tip of a feather dipped in this concoction." The blood of a 
crane, dried and preserved, and its right foot are employed 
in varied ways to facilitate child-birth.'^ Hildegard also 
often tells how to make a medicinal unguent by cooking some 
bird in some prescribed manner and then pulverizing cer- 
tain portions of the carcass with various herbs or other ani- 
mal substances.® Even without the employment of cere- 

' Subtleties, y, 5. 'Ibid., VI, 49- 

'Ibid., V, 10. 'Ibid.. VI. 6. 

*(i903), PP- 193-4- ^ Ibid.. VI, 4. 

* Subtleties, VI, 7. "Ibid., VI, 5, 20, 40. 


monial sufficiently remarkable powers are attributed to the 
bodies or parts of birds. Eating- the flesh of one reduces 
fat and benefits epileptics, while eating its liver is good for 
melancholy.^ The liver of a swan has the different prop- 
erty of purifying the lungs, while the lung of a swan is a 
cure for the spleen.^ Again, a heron's liver cures stomach 
trouble, while a cure for spleen is to drink water in which 
its bones have been stewed, and if one who is sad eats its 
heart, it will make him glad.^ 

Hildegard's chapters on quadrupeds are so delightfully Cures 
quaint that I cannot pass them over, although the properties qu*^^ru 
which she attributes to them and the methods by which their peds. 
virtues are utilized are not essentially different from those 
in examples already given. The camel, however, is peculiar 
in that its different humps have quite different virtues.'* 
The one next to its neck has the virtues of the lion; the 
second, those of the leopard; the third, those of the horse. 
A cap of lion's skin cures ailments of the head whether 
physical or mental.^ Deafness may be remedied by cutting 
off a lion's right ear and holding it over the patient's ear 
just long enough to warm it and to say, "Hear adimacus by 
the living God and the keen virtue of a lion's hearing." 
This process is to be repeated many times. The heart of a 
lion is somewhat similarly employed, but without any in- 
cantation, to make a stupid person prudent. Burying a 
lion's heart in the house is regarded as fire insurance against 
its being struck by lightning, "for the lion is accustomed 
to roar when he hears thunder." Digestion is aided by 
drinking water in which the dried liver of a lion has been 
left for a short time. Placing a bit of the skin from be- 
tween a bear's eyes over one's heart removes timidity and 
anxiety.^ If anyone suffers from paralysis or one of those 
changeable diseases which wax and wane with the moon like 
lunacy, let him select a spot where an ass has been slain, or 
has died a natural death, or has wallowed, and let him 

^Subtleties, VI, 2. * Ibid., VII, 2. 

^bid., VI, 5. ^Ibid., VII, 3. 

'Ibid., VI, 6. 'Ibid., VII, 4. 



spread a cloth on the grass or ground and repose there a 
short time and sleep if he can. Afterwards you should take 
him by the right hand and say, "Lazarus slept and rested 
and rose again; and as Christ roused him from foul decay, 
so may you rise from this perilous pestilence and the chang- 
ing phases of fever in that conjunction in which Christ ap- 
plied Himself to the alleviation of such complaints, prefigur- 
ing that He would redeem man from his sins and raise him 
from the dead." With a brief interval of time allowed be- 
tween, the same performance is to be repeated thrice in the 
same place on the same day, and then again thrice on the 
next and the third days, when the patient will be cured.^ 
The The liver and skin of the unicorn have great medicinal 

weasel"' virtues, but that animal can never be caught except by 
and means of girls, for it flees from men but stops to gaze 

diligently at girls, because it marvels that they have human 
forms, yet no beards. "And if there are two or three girls 
together, it marvels so much the more and is the more 
quickly captured while its eyes are fixed on them. More- 
over, the girls employed in capturing it should be of noble, 
not peasant birth, and of the middle period of adolescence." ^ 
When one weasel is sick, another digs up a certain herb 
and breathes and urinates on it for an hour, and then brings 
it to the sick weasel who is cured by it.^ But what this 
herb is is unknown to men and other animals, and it would 
do them no good if they did know it, since its unaided virtue 
is not efficacious, nor would the action of their breath or 
urine make it so. But the heart of a weasel, dried and 
placed with wax in the ear, benefits headache or deafness, 
and the head of a weasel, worn in two pieces in a belt next 
the skin, strengthens and comforts the bearer and keeps 
him from harm. The mouse, besides being responsible for 
two other equally marvelous cures, is a remedy for epilepsy. 
"For inasmuch as the mouse runs away from everything, 
therefore it drives away the falling disease." * It should be 

^Subtleties, VII, 9. 'Ibid., VII, 38. 

'Ibid., VII, 5. *Ibid., VII, 39- 




put in a dish of water, and the patient should drink some 
of this water and also wash his feet and forehead in it. 

Hildegard gives some strange advice what animal prod- 
ucts to eat and wear. "Sheepskins are good for human 
wear, because they do not induce pride or lust or pestilence 
as the skins of certain other animals do." ^ Pork is not 
good for either sick or healthy persons to eat, in her opinion, 
while beef, on account of its intrinsic cold, is not good for a 
man of cold constitution to eat.- On the other hand, she 
recommends as edible various birds which would strike the 
modern reader as disgusting.^ 

Fleas remain underground in winter but come forth to 
plague mankind when the sun dries the soil in summer. 
But one may be rid of them by heating some earth until it 
is quite dry and then scattering it upon the bed.^ Hildegard 
also describes a complicated cure for leprosy by use of the 
earth from an ant-hill.^ If a man kills a certain venomous 
snake just after it has skinned itself in the cleft of a rock, 
and cautiously removes its heart and dries the same in 
the sun, and then preserves it in a thin metal cover, it will 
serve as an amulet. Holding it in his hand will render him 
immune to venom and cheer him up if he becomes gloomy 
or sorrowful.^ 

In the Causae et curae Hildegard combines the virtues 
of parts of a number of animals into one composite medi- 
cine for epilepsy.'^ Four parts of dried mole's blood are 
used because the mole sometimes shows himself and some- 
times hides, like the epilepsy itself. Two parts of powdered 
duck's bill are added because the duck's strength is in its 
beak, "and because it touches both pure and impure things 
with its bill, it is repugnant to this disease which is sudden 
and silent." One portion of the powdered claws of a goose, 
minus the skin and flesh, is added for much the same reason, 
and the claw of a goose rather than a gander is required 

' Subtleties, VII, 16. 
''Ibid., VII, 17. 
nbid., VII, 14. 
Ubid., VII, 42. 

^Ibid.. VII, 43- 
Ubid., VIII, 2. 
'(1903), pp. 206-7. 

What ani- 
mals to eat 
and wear. 







Magic and 



because the female bird is the more silent of the two. These 
constituents are bound together in a cloth, placed for three 
days near a recent molecast, — for such earth is more whole- 
some, then are put near ice to cool and then in the sun to 
dry. Cakes are then to be made with this powder and the 
livers of some edible animal and bird and a little meal and 
cummin seed, and eaten for five days. Against diabolical 
phantasms is recommended a belt made of the skin of a 
roebuck, which is a pure animal, and of the skin of the 
helun, which is a brave beast, and hence both are abhorred 
by evil spirits.^ The two strips of skin are to be fastened 
together by four little steel ^ nails, and as each is clasped 
one repeats the formula, "In the most potent strength of 
almighty God I adjure you to safeguard me" ; only in 
the second, third, and fourth instance instead of saying "I 
adjure" (adiuro), the words henedico, constituo, and con- 
iirmo are respectively substituted. One should be girded 
with this belt night and day, and magic words will not harm 

We have already encountered more than one instance 
of observance of the phases of the moon in Hildegard's 
medicinal and magical procedure, and have met in one of 
her formulae a hint that Christ employed astrological elec- 
tion of a favorable conjunction in performing His miracles. 
Thus as usual the influence of the stars is difficult to sepa- 
rate from other occult virtues of natural substances, and 
we may complete our survey of Hildegard's writings by 
considering her views concerning the celestial bodies and 
divination of the future. 

In the passage of the Scivias to which we have already 
referred God condemned astrology and divination as well as 
magic. ^ Mathematici are called "deadly instructors and 
followers of the Gentiles in unbelief," and man is reproved 

* (1903), pp. 194-5. 

'(1903), p. 195, "Nam calibs 
est firmamentum et ornamentum 
aliarum rerum et est quasi 
quaedam adiunctio ad vires ho- 

minis quemadmodum homo fortis 

' Migne, 409-14; I alter the or- 
der somewhat in my summary. 


for believing that the stars allot his years of life and regu- 
late all human actions, and for cultivating in the place of 
his Creator mere creatures such as the stars and heavens, 
which cannot console or help him, or confer either pros- 
perity or happiness, Man should not consult the stars as 
to the length of his life, which he can neither know before- 
hand nor alter. He should not seek signs of the future 
in either stars or fire or birds or any other creature. "The 
error of augury" is expressly rebuked. Man should abstain 
not only from worshiping or invoking the devil but from 
making any inquiries from him, "since if you wish to know 
more than you should, you will be deceived by the old 

It is true that sometimes by divine permission the stars Signs in 
are signs to men, for the Son of God Himself says in the 
Gospel by Luke that "There shall be signs in the sun and 
moon and stars," and His incarnation was revealed by a 
star. But it is a stupid popular error to suppose that other 
men each have a star of their own, and, continues God, 
speaking through the medium of Hildegard, "That star 
brought no aid to My Son other than that it faithfully an- 
nounced His incarnation to the people, since all stars and 
creatures fear Me and simply fulfill My dictates and have 
no signification of anything in any creature." This last 
observation receives further interpretation in a passage of 
the Causae et Curae ^ which explains that the stars some- 
times show many signs, but not of the future or hidden 
thoughts of men, but of matters which they have already 
revealed by act of will or voice or deed, so that the air 
has received an impression of it which the stars can reflect 
back to other men if God allows it. But the sun and moon 
and planets do not always thus portray the works of men, 
but only rarely, and in the case of some great event affect- 
ing the public welfare, 

'(1903), p. IS- 




inferiors ; 
effect of 
stars and 
winds on 

of the 
moon on 
health and 

If the stars do not even signify the fate and future 
of man, they are none the less potent forces and, under God, 
causes in the world of nature. "God who created all 
things," writes Hildegard in the Liber divinorum operum^ 
"so constituted superiors that He also strengthens and 
purifies things below through these, and in the human form 
introduces also those things allotted for the soul's salvation." 
This passage has two sides ; it affirms the rule of superiors 
over inferiors, but it makes special provision for the salva- 
tion of the human soul. And thus it is a good brief sum- 
mary of Hildegard's position. Sun, moon, and stars are 
represented as by the will of God cooperating with the winds 
— which play an important part in Hildegard's cosmology — 
in driving the elements to and fro ; ' and the humors in the 
human body now rage fiercely like the leopard, now move 
sluggishly like the crab, now proceed in other ways 
analogous to the wolf or deer or bear or serpent or lamb or 
lion — animals whose heads, belching forth winds, are seen 
in the vision about the rim of the heavenly spheres.^ They 
suggest the influence of the signs of the zodiac, although 
there appears to be no exact correspondence to these in 
Hildegard's visionary scheme of the universe as detailed in 
the Liber divinorum operum. In the Causae et curae, on 
the other hand, she gives a detailed account of how pairs 
or triplets of planets accompany the sun through 
each of the twelve signs.'* In other passages ^ she affirms 
that the sun and moon serve man by divine order, and 
bring him strength or weakness according to the temper of 
the air. 

Hildegard more especially emphasizes the influence of 
the moon, in which respect she resembles many an astrologer. 
In the Causae et curae ® she states that some days of the 
moon are good, others bad ; some, useful and others, use- 
less; some, strong and others, weak. "And since the moon 

'Migne, 807. 
*Migne, 791 and 798. 
' Migne, 732 ct seq. 

* (1903). pp. 11-14. 
'Migne. 778. 

* (1903), pp. 16-17. 




has this changeability in itself, therefore the moisture in 
man has its vicissitudes and mutability in pain, in labor, in 
wisdom, and in prosperity." Similarly in the Liber 
divinorum operum ^ it is noted that human blood and brain 
are augmented when the moon is full and diminish as it 
wanes, and that these changes affect human health vari- 
ously. Sometimes one incurs epilepsy when the moon is in 
eclipse.^ The moon is the mother of all seasons. Hilde- 
gard marvels in the Causae et curae ^ that while men have 
sense enough not to sow crops in mid-summer or the coldest 
part of winter, they persist in begetting offspring at any 
time according to their pleasure without regard either to 
the proper period of their own lives or to the time 
of the moon. The natural consequence of their heedless- 
ness is the birth of defective children. Hildegard then 
adds ^ by way of qualification that the time of the moon 
does not dominate the nature of man as if it were his god, 
or as if man received any power of nature from it, or as 
if it conferred any part of human nature. The moon 
simply affects the air, and the air affects man's blood and 
the humors of his body. 

Hildegard, however, not only believed that as the humors Relations 
were perturbed and the veins boiled, the health of the body humors'lo'^ 
would be affected and perhaps a fever set in,^ but also that human 
passions, such as wTath and petulance, were thereby aroused and fate, 
and the mind affected.^ This is suggested in a general way 
in the Liher divinorum operum, but is brought out in more 
detail in the Causae et curae, where various types of men 
are delineated according to the combinations of humors in 
their bodies, and their characters are sketched and even their 
fate to some extent predicted therefrom. In one case '' 
"the man will be a good scholar, but headlong and too 
vehement in his studies, so that he scatters his knowledge 

'Migne, 779. "(1903), p. 19. 

Migne, 793. ° Migne, 793. 

'(1903)- pp. 17-18; and again *(i903), p. 19. 

77-78; see also p. 97, "de conceptu ^ (1903), p. 54. 
in plenilunio." 




for the 
days of 
the moon. 

over too wide a field, as straw is blown by the wind; and 
he seeks to have dominion over others. In body he is 
healthy except that his legs are weak and he is prone to 
gout; but he can live a long while, if it so please God." 
Such a passage hardly sounds consistent with Hildegard's 
statement elsewhere already noted that man cannot know 
the length of his life beforehand. In the case of choleric, 
sanguine, melancholy, and phlegmatic men ^ Hildegard 
states what the relations of each type will be with women 
and even to some extent what sort of children they will 
have. She also discusses four types of women in very simi- 
lar style.^ These are not exactly astrological predictions, 
but they have much the same flavor and seem to leave little 
place for freedom of the will. 

In one passage, however, Hildegard comfortingly adds 
that nevertheless the Holy Spirit can penetrate the whole 
nature of man and overcome his mutable nature as the sun 
dispels clouds, and so counteract the moist influence of the 
moon. She also states concerning the significations of the 
stars concerning man's future, "These significations are not 
produced by the virtue of the planets themselves alone or 
stars or clouds, but by the permission and will and decree of 
God, according as God wished to demonstrate to men the 
works of the same, just as a coin shows the image of its 
lord." ^ In another passage, on the other hand, Hildegard 
recognizes, like Aquinas later, that it is only rarely and with 
difficulty that the flesh can be restrained from sinning."* 

Finally, the Causae et curae close with predictions for 
each day of the moon of the type of male or female who 
will be conceived on that day.^ Selecting the eighteenth 
day by lot as an example of the others, we read that a 
male conceived then will be a thief and will be caught in 
the act and will be deprived of his landed property so that 
he possesses neither fields nor vineyards, but strives to 

^Causae et curae (1903), pp. 
* Ibid., pp. 87-9. 

^ Ibid., pp. 19-20. 
*Ibid., p. 84. 
''Ibid., pp. 235-42. 



take from others what is not his. He will be healthy in 
body and live a long life, if left to himself. A woman con- 
ceived on that day will be cunning- and deceitful of speech 
and will lead upright men to death if she can. She too 
will be sound of body and naturally long-lived, but some- 
times insane. Hildegard then seems to feel it advisable 
to add, "But such morals, both in men and in women, are 
hateful to God." 

The theory of macrocosm and microcosm had a consid- Man the 
erable attraction for Hildegard. At the beginning of the 
Causae et ciirae she exclaims, "O man, look at man! For 
man has in himself heavens and earth . . . and in him 
all things are latent." ^ Presently she compares the firma- 
ment to man's head, sun, moon, and stars to the eyes, air to 
hearing, the winds to smelling, dew to taste, and "the sides 
of the world" to the arms and sense of touch. The earth is 
like the heart, and other creatures in the world are like the 
belly.^ In the Liber diznnorum operum she goes into fur- 
ther detail. Between the divine image in human form 
which she sees in her visions and the wheel or sphere of 
the universe she notes such relationships as these. The sun 
spreads its rays from the brain to the heel, and the moon 
directs its rays from the eyebrows to the ankles.^ Else- 
where she says, "The eyebrows of man declare the journey- 
ings of the moon, namely, the one route by which it ap- 
proaches the sun in order to restore itself, and the other by 
which it recedes after it has been burnt by the sun." ^ Again, 
from the top of the cerebral cavity to "the last extremity of 
the forehead" there are seven distinct and equal spaces, by 
which are signified the seven planets which are equidistant 
from one another in the firmament.^ An even more sur- 
prising assumption as to astronomical distances is involved 
in the comparison ® that as the three intervals between the 
top of the human head and the end of the throat and the 
navel and the groin are all equal, so are the spaces interven- 

M1903), p. 2. *Migne, 833. 

* (1903), p. 10. °Migne, 819. 

^ Migne, 779. * Migne, 943. 

in dreams. 


ing between the highest firmament and lowest clouds and 
the earth's surface and center. Corresponding to these 
intervals Hildegard notes three ages of man, infancy, 
adolescence, and old age. One more passage may be noted, 
since it also involves a similar explanation of weeping for 
joy to that given by Adelard of Bath. As the heart is 
stirred by emotion, whether of joy or of sorrow, humors 
are excited in the lungs and breast which rise to the brain 
and are emitted through the eyes in the form of tears. And 
in like manner, when the moon begins to wax or wane, the 
firmament is disturbed by winds which raise fogs from 
the sea and other waters.^ 
Divination If Hildegard resorts to a magic of her own in order to 

counteract the diabolical arts, and if she accepts a certain 
amount of astrological doctrine for all her .censure of it, it 
is not surprising to find her in the Causae et curae saying 
a word in favor of natural divination in dreams despite her 
rejection of augury and such arts. She believes that, when 
God sent sleep to Adam before he had yet sinned, his soul 
saw many things in true prophecy, and that the human soul 
may still sometimes do the same, although too often it is 
clouded by diabolical illusions.^ But when the body is in a 
temperate condition and the marrow warmed in due 
measure, and there is no disturbance of vices or con- 
trariety of morals, then very often a sleeper sees true 
dreams.^ Hildegard's own visions, as we have seen, came 
to her in her waking hours. 

^Migne, 829. '(1903), P- 83. 

'(1903), p- 82. 



His picture of the learned world — Chief events of his life — General 
character of the Polycraticus — Magic, malcHcia, and tnathcmatica — Use 
of Isidore on magic — Relation of Thomas Becket to Johns discussion — 
Inconsistent Christian attitude toward superstition — Divine and natural 
signs — Miracle and occult virtue — Interpretation of dreams — Dreams 
of Joseph and Daniel — The witchcraft delusion — Prevalence of astrol- 
ogy — John's attack upon it — Does astrology imply fatal necessity? — 
John's lame conclusion — Other varieties of magic — Thomas Becket's 
consultation of diviners — Witch of Endor : exorcisms — Divination from 
polished surfaces — Natural science and medicine — Summary. 

In 1 1 59 John of Salisbury completed his two chief works, Hispic- 
the Metalogicus and the Polycraticus} In the former he learned 
tells the interesting story of his education in the schools of world, 
northern France, and describes the teachers and methods of 
the humanistic school of Chartres and the schools of logic 
at Paris, This valuable picture of educational conditions 
in the middle of the twelfth century has already supplied 
us with a number of bits of information concerning authors 
of whom we have treated. Its importance in the history 
of the study of the classics and of scholasticism has long 
been recognized, and its content has often been reproduced 
in secondary works, so that we need not dwell upon it 
specifically here.^ Moreover, although John spent some 
twelve years in his studies in France, he appears from his 

^Johannis Sarisheriensis Epis- the Polycraticus unless otherwise 

copi Carnotensis Policratici sive stated. 

de nugis curialiiim et vestigiis * The most recent discussion of 

philosophorum libri VIII. Recog. it is by R. L. Poole, "The Masters 

C. C. I. Webb. 2 vols. Oxford, of the Schools at Paris and 

1909. The work is also contained Chartres in John of Salisbury's 

in Migne, PL vol. 199. For Time," in EHR XXXV (1920), 

John's life see DNB. All refer- 321-42. 
ences are to book and chapter of 



own statements to have passed from the study of logic and 
"grammar" to that of theology without devoting much at- 
tention to natural science,^ although he received some in- 
struction in the Quadrivium from Richard Bishop and 
Hardewin the Teuton. He was, it is true, according to 
his own statement, a pupil of William of Conches for three 
years, but he always alludes to William as a grammarian, 
not as a writer on natural philosophy and astronomy. This 
one-sided description of William's teaching warns us not 
to place too implicit faith in John's account of the learned 
world of his times. Even if reliable as it stands, it is not 
in itself a complete or adequate picture. In the Polycraticus, 
however, he engages in a rather long discussion of magic, 
astrology and other forms of divination which it behooves 
us to note. 
Chief John tells us that he was a mere lad when in 1136 he 

his life. fi'"^^ came from England to Gaul to hear the famous Abelard 
lecture. Like many medieval students, he was or soon came 
to be in a needy condition and eked out a living at one time 
by tutoring the sons of nobles. During the time that had 
elapsed between his long training in the liberal arts and 
theology and his writing of the Metalogkus in 1159, he 
had led a busy life in the employ of Theobald, archbishop 
of Canterbury, crossing the Alps ten times, journeying twice 
all the way from England to Apulia, and frequently 
traveling about England and what is now France (John 
says, "the Gauls" — Gallias). In 1159 he addressed the 
Polycraticus to Thomas Becket, then absent with Henry II 
as his chancellor at the siege of Toulouse. Thomas was just 
about John's age and, before he became chancellor in 11 54 
at the age of thirty-six, had been like John first a student 
and then in the employ of Archbishop Theobald. John 
sided with Thomas Becket in the struggle with Henry II, 
retired to France, and returned to England with him in 
1 1 70. In 1176 he crowned his career by becoming bishop 

^Metalog. II, 10. 




of Chartres where perhaps some years of his early studies 
had been spent. His death was in 1180. 

In the Metalogiciis John tells us that he has scarcely 
touched a book of logic since he left the palaestra of the 
dialecticians so many years ago, but he returns to the sub- 
ject again in that work. In the Polycraticus his literary 
tastes and interests are more manifest. He writes a good 
Latin style and shows a wide acquaintance with classical 
authors and ancient history as well as with patristic litera- 
ture. The character and content of the Polycraticus is more 
clearly suggested by its sub-title, "Courtiers' Trifles and 
Philosophers' Footprints" {De niigis curialmm et vestigiis 
philosophorum). In part it is satirical, although there is 
considerable serious discussion of the state and philosophy 
and much moralizing for the benefit of contemporary courts 
and statesmen. John confesses that the entire work is little 
more than a patch-work of other men's opinions, sometimes 
without specific acknowledgment of the authorities. He 
professes to believe that Thomas will recognize the sources 
of these passages without being told, while other readers 
who are more ignorant will be thereby spurred on to wider 
reading. These quotations, moreover, are either from an- 
cient classical or comparatively early Christian writers. 
John does not epitomize recent literature and thought, al- 
though he makes application of the thought of the past to 
contemporary society and politics, and although he shows 
some acquaintance with the works of contemporary writers 
such as Bernard Silvester. In the main his attitude is 
essentially conservative; he repeats traditional views in an 
attractive but somewhat dilettante literary form, with such 
rational criticism as a study of the classics might be ex- 
pected to produce when qualified by scrupulous adherence 
to medieval Christian dogma. This is especially true of 
his discussion of the magic arts and astrology. 

John begins to discuss magic in the first of the eight 
books of the Polycraticus after a few chapters have been 
taken up with such other triflings of courtiers as hunting, 

of the 

and mathe' 


dicing, music, and theatrical shows and spectacles. More 

harmful than the illusions of the stage, he declares, are those 

of the magic arts and various kinds of disreputable mathe- 

matica, long since forbidden by the holy fathers who knew 

that all these artificia, or rather maleficia arose from 

a fatal familiarity of men and demons.^ John thus takes 

as practically synonymous the three terms, magica, mathe- 

matica and rnaleiicinm. He presently explains that the 

word mathcsis in one sense denotes learning in general, but 

that when it has a long penultima, it signifies the figments 

of divination,- which belong under magic, whose varieties 

are many and diverse. Thus magic is John's most general 

and inclusive term for all occult arts. 

Use of The account of magic in John's ninth, tenth, eleventh, 

Isidore ^j^^j twelfth chapters is larg^ely derived without acknowledg- 
on magic. . . 

ment from that of Isidore of Seville.^ We have already 

seen how this became a stock description of the subject 
copied with little change by successive writers and embodied 
in the decretals of the church. It is rather surprising that a 
writer as well versed in the classics as John is generally 
supposed to be should not have borrowed his account more 
directly from some such ancient Latin writers as Pliny and 
Apuleius. John, however, alters the wording and arrange- 
ment and consequently the emphasis considerably. He 
makes it seem, for example, that several magic arts, which 
really have nothing to do with predicting the future, are 
sub-varieties of divination. He also adds some new varie- 
ties to Isidore's list of practitioners of the magic arts. The 
cndtwoli try to affect men by making images of them from 
wax or clay. Imaginarii, on the other hand, make images 
with the intent that demons should enter these images and 
instruct them in regard to doubtful matters. Besides in- 
terpreters of dreams (conjectorcs) and chiromancers John 
further mentions specidarii who practise divination by 
gazing into polished surfaces such as the edges of swords, 

' I, 9. ' For Isidore's account see PL 

'At II, 18 he makes the same 82, 310-14. 




basins, and mirrors. It was this art that Joseph is described 
as exercising or pretending- to exercise, when he charged 
his brothers with having made off with the cup in which he 
was wont to practice divination. The thirteenth and closing 
chapter of John's first book is a long list of omens from 
Roman history and Latin literature, especially Vergil. 

In the second book he resumes the same subject after a 
brief and somewhat apologetic preface in which he states 
that all things are of use to the wise man. Therefore he 
responds with alacrity to Thomas Becket's request that he 
publish his trifles, introducing interpreters of dreams and 
astrologers with some other triflers. We shall later meet 
with some further explanation of Thomas' interest in such 
matters. It is perhaps significant that John further ex- 
presses his confidence that Thomas will faithfully protect 
those in whom he has inspired boldness of utterance,^ but 
it would be too much to assume from it that John fears any 
persecution because he discusses such subjects. More likely 
he merely shares the common medieval fear of the envious 
bite of critics and reviewers, or wishes to remind Thomas 
of his need of his patronage. At any rate he closes the 
prologue with the request that Thomas will correct any mis- 
take in either book. 

In opening his second book John subscribes to the proverb 
that he who trusts in dreams and auguries will never be 
secure and asks — like Cicero in his De divinatione - — what 
possible connection there can be between sneezes, yawns, 
and other such things accepted as signs and the events which 
they are supposed to signify. With Isidore and Augustine ^ 
— although he names neither — he rejects those empty in- 

^ Polycrat. II, prologus. "Alac- 
res itaque exeant nugae nostrae 
quas serenitas tua prodire iubet 
in publicum, ut conjectores, ma- 
thematicos, cum quibusdam aliis 
nugatoribus introducant; quia qui- 
bus dedisti egrediendi audaciam, 
securitatis quoque fiduciam prae- 
stabis." The following words, 
"Connectantur ergo inferiora su- 

perioribus" seem to mean that the 
second book goes on where the 
first left off, but perhaps the sug- 
gestion of astrological doctrine 
is an intentional play upon words 
on John's part. 

'II, 12. 

^ De doctrina Christiana, II, 20 
in Migne, PL vol. 34. 

tion of 
Becket to 
John's dis- 





and natu- 
ral signs. 

cantations and superstitious ligatures which the entire 
medical art condemns, although some call them phys'tca} 
This seems like an admirable approach to an attitude of 
rational criticism, but John after all may be merely re- 
peating others' statements like a parrot, and he entirely spoils 
its efifect by what he goes on to say. He believes that the 
cloak of St. Stephen raised the dead, and that such practices 
as saying the Lord's prayer while plucking or admin- 
istering medicinal herbs, or wearing or hearing or repeating 
the names of the four evangelists,^ are not only allowable 
but most useful. He adds further that the force of all omens 
depends upon the faith of the recipient. 

Although opposing faith in omens and augury, John 
admits that God provides signs for His creatures, such as 
those of the weather which sailors and farmers learn by 
experience and the birds are not ignorant of, or the indica- 
tions by which doctors can prognosticate the course of dis- 
eases. Unfortunately the demons also are able to show signs 
and thus lead men astray. Mention of signs which pre- 
ceded the fall of Jerusalem then leads John into a digression 
for several chapters concerning the horrors of the siege 
itself and Vespasian and Titus, a passage which was very 
likely inserted because Henry H and Becket were at that 
very time engaged in laying siege to Toulouse. 

Returning to the subject of signs, John interprets the 

and occult yerse in Luke, "There shall be signs in sun and moon and 

virtue. ; ° 

stars" as having reference to unnatural signs, and the ob- 
scuration of the sun during Christ's passion as not a nat- 
ural eclipse.^ John explains that by nature he means "the 
accustomed course of things or the occult causes of events 
for which a reason can be given." ^ H, however, we ac- 
cept Plato's definition of nature as the will of God there 
will be no unnatural events. But John would distinguish 
between the gradual growth of leaves and fruit on tree or 


' Thus, it will be recalled, 
Marcellus Empiricus and Alex- 
ander of Tralles labelled their 
superstitious recipes- 

' "Capitula Evangelii." 
*II, ir. 

*II, 12. 


vine by means of roots drawing nutriment from earth's 
vitals and sap produced within the trunk, which is indeed 
marvelous and has the most occult causes, and the perform- 
ance of the same process without any interval of time, which 
he regards as a miracle and of a divine height which trans- 
cends our understanding. After drawing this distinction 
between divine miracle and wonders wrought by occult 
virtues in nature John returns again to the subject of signs. 

For some chapters the topic of dreams and their inter- Interpre- 

pretation absorbs his attention,^ and at first he discusses t^tio"oi 
*^ ' dreams. 

in an apparently credulous and approving tone "the varied 
significations of dreams, which both experience approves 
and the authority of our ancestors confirms." ^ He explains 
that now the dream concerns the dreamer himself, now 
someone else, now common interests, sometimes the public 
or general welfare; and he quotes Nestor to the effect that 
"trust is put in the king's dream concerning public mat- 
ters." ^ After referring credulously to the Sibylline verses 
predicting Christ's incarnation, passion, and ascension, John 
continues his exposition of the interpretation of dreams. 
He explains that the season of year when one dreams, the 
place where one dreams, and the personal characteristics of 
the dreamer must all be taken into account; that sometimes 
interpretations should be by contraries, and again from like 
to like. But then he checks himself with the words : "But 
while we pursue these traditions of the interpreters, I fear 
lest we deservedly seem not so much to trace the art of 
interpretation, which is either no art at all or an idle one, 
as to dream ourselves." He adds further, "Whoever fastens 
his credulity to the significations of dreams evidently 
wanders as far from sincere faith as from the path of 
reason." * 

^ II, 14-17. _ _ _ nunc suum cuiusque est, nunc 

* II, 14, Quis nescit somniorum alienum, modo commune, inter- 

varias esse significationes, quas dum publice aut generale est. Ut 

et usus approbat et maiorum con- enim ait Nestor, de statu publico 

firmat auctoritas. regis credatur somnio. 

'II, 15. Somnium . . . gerit * II, 17. Sed dum has coniec- 

imagines, in quibus coniectorum torum traditiones ex(s)equimur, 

praecipue disciplina versatur, et vereor ne merito non tarn con- 


Dreams of John then attacks the Dream-Book of Daniel, which he 

Darnel.^" says "circulates impudently among the hands of the curi- 
ous" and gives a specific interpretation for each thing" 
imagined by the dreamer. He denies the truth and authority 
of the book and argues at some length that neither Joseph 
nor Daniel would have composed such a work, and that 
they interpreted dreams by divine inspiration, not by any 
occult art learned in Chaldea or Egypt. In the first place, 
the method of interpretation set forth in this book is faulty 
and crude. The remainder of John's argument is worth 
quoting in part : 

"Daniel indeed had the grace to interpret visions and 
dreams, which the Lord inspired in him, but it is inconceiv- 
able that a holy man should reduce this vanity to an art, when 
he knew that the Mosaic law prohibited any of the faithful 
to heed dreams, being aware how Satan's satellite for the 
subversion of men is transformed into an angel of light and 
how suggestions are made by bad angels. Joseph, too, won 
the rule of Egypt by his ability to predict. . . . But if this 
could have come from any science of human wisdom, I 
should think that some one of his ancestors before him would 
have merited it, or I should think that the saint, desirous of 
serving science and full of pious impulses, would have left 
the art as a legacy, if not to the human race at large, which 
would nevertheless have been just, at any rate to his brothers 
and sons. Besides, Moses, trained in all the wisdom of the 
Egyptians, either was ignorant of or spurned this art, since, 
detesting the error of impiety, he took pains to exterminate 
it from among God's people. Furthermore, St. Daniel 
learned the studies and wisdom of the Chaldeans, which, as a 
saint, he would not have done, had he thought it sinful to 
be instructed in their lore. And he had companions in his 
education whom he rejoiced to have as comrades in divine 
law and justice. For at the same time Ananias, Axarias, 

iectoriam ex(s)equi, quae aut nificationibus alligat somniorum, 

nulla aut inania ars est, quam planum est quia tarn a sinceritate 

dormitare videamur . . . Verum fidei quam a tramite rationis ex- 

quisquis credulitatem suam sig- orbitat. 


Misael learned whatever a Chaldean would learn. . . . But 
notice that the privilege which man could not confer was 
given to Daniel alone, to bring to light the riddles of dreams 
and to scatter the obscurities of figures. . , ." 

Pointing out that Daniel read the king's thoughts and 
prophesied "the mystery of salvation" in addition to in- 
terpreting the dream, John then concludes sarcastically: 
"Are the interpreters of dreams thus wont to examine 
thoughts and remove obscurities, to explain what is involved 
and illuminate the darkness of figures? If there is any who 
enjoys a like portion of grace, let him join Daniel and Joseph 
and like them ascribe to God the glory. He whom the spirit 
of truth does not illume vainly puts his confidence in the art 
of dreams." ^ 

John concludes that many dreams are the work of The 
demons.^ Especially as of this sort he classifies the illu- delusion, 
sions of those who think that they have taken part during 
the night in witches' Sabbats. "What they suffer in spirit 
they most wretchedly and falsely believe to have occurred 
in the body.^ And such dreams come mainly to women, 
feeble-minded men, and those weak in the Christian faith. 
Too much stress must not, however, be laid upon this 
apparent opposition to the witchcraft delusion."* John 
admits that the demons send dreams, and if he denies their 
verity, he merely repeats a hesitation as to the extent and 
reality of the power of demons over the body of men and 
the world of nature which we have frequently met in 

* Polycrat. II, 17. Gratian ap- nem forte accendens aut avaritiam 

pears to refer to the same book aut dominandi ingerens appetitum 

on oneiromancy in his Deere- aut quidquid huiusmodi est ad 

titsn, Secunda pars, Causa XXVI, subversionem animae, procul 

Quaest. vii, cap. 16, "somnialia dubio aut caro aut spiritus ma- 

scripta et falso in Danielis nomine Hgnus immittit. 

intitulata." ^11, 17 (Migne, col. 436), Webb 

^11, 17 (Webb I, 100). Quis I, loo-i. 

huius f acti explicet rationem nisi * John is perhaps influenced by 

quod boni spiritus vel maligni a similar passage in the Canon, 

exigentibus hominum meritis eos Ut episcopi (Burchard, Deer eta. 

erudiunt vel illuduiit? . . . Quod X, l). 
si materiam vitiis afferat, libidi- 


patristic literature and which is due to a natural reluctance 
to admit that their magic is as real as God's miracles. 
Preva- From divination by dreams and demons John passes to 

astrology, astrology. To start with he admits the attraction which 
the art has for men of intellect in his own time. "Would," 
he exclaims, "that the error of the mathematici could be as 
readily removed from enlightened minds as the works of 
the demons fade before true faith and a sane consciousness 
of their illusions. But in it men go astray with the greater 
peril in that they seem to base their error upon nature's 
firm foundation and reason's strength." ^ Beginning with 
mathematical and astronomical truths based on nature, rea- 
son and experience, they gradually slip into error, sub- 
mitting human destiny to the stars and pretending to 
knowledge which belongs to God alone. 
John's John ridicules the astrologers for attributing sex to the 

upon it. stars and stating the exact characteristics and influences of 
each planet, when they cannot agree among themselves 
whether the stars are composed of the four elements or 
some fifth essence, and when they are confounded by a 
schoolboy's question whether the stars are hard or soft.^ 
He grants that the sun's heat and the moon's control of 
humors as it waxes and wanes are potent forces, and that 
the other heavenly bodies are the causes of many utilities, 
and that from their position and signs the weather may be 
predicted. But he complains that the astrologers magnify 
the influence of the stars at the expense of God's control of 
nature and of human free will. "They ascribe everything 
to their constellations." Some have even reached such a 
degree of madness that they believe that an image can be 
formed in accordance with the constellations so that it will 
receive the spirit of life at the nod of the stars and will 

* II, i8. Possit utinam tarn Verumtamen eo periculosius er- 

facile mathematicorum error a rant quo in soliditate naturae et 

praestantioribus animis amoveri vigore rationis suum fundare vi- 

quam leviter in conspectu verae dentur crrorem. 

fidei et sanae conscientiae istarum ' II, 19. 
illusionum demonia conquiescunt. 


reveal the secrets of hidden truth." ^ Whether John has 
some magic automaton or merely an engraved astrological 
image in mind is not entirely clear. 

John is aware, however, that many astrologers will deny Does 
that their science detracts in any way from divine preroga- jm^Jiy fftai 
tive and power, and will "appear to themselves to excuse necessity? 
their error quite readily" by asserting with Plotinus that 
God foreknew and consequently foredisposed everything 
that is to occur, and that the stars are as much under his 
control as any part of nature.^ But John will have none 
of this sort of argument. "These hypotheses of theirs are 
indeed plausible but nevertheless venom lies under the honey. 
For they impose on things a certain fatal necessity under the 
guise of humility and reverence to God, fearing lest his 
intent should perchance alter, if the outcome of things were 
not made necessary. Furthermore, they encroach upon the 
domain of divine majesty, when they lay claim to that sci- 
ence of foreseeing times and seasons, which by the Son's 
testimony are reserved to the power of the Father, even to 
the degree that they were hid from the eyes of those to whom 
the Son of God revealed whatever He heard from the 
Father." ^ 

John furthermore contends that divine foreknowledge 
does not require fatal necessity. For instance, although 
God knew that Adam would sin, Adam was under no com- 
pulsion to do so. God knew that by his guilt Adam would 
bring death into the world, but no condition of nature im- 
pelled him to this ; in the beginning man was immortal. At 
this point John wanders off into a joust at the Stoics and 
Epicureans, whom he censures as equally in error, since the 
one subjected all to chance, the other to necessity. It is 
true, John argues, that I know a stone will fall to earth if I 
hurl it skywards, but it does not act under necessity, for 
it might fall or not." But that it does fall, "though not 

*II, 19 (Migne, col. 442). festabit arcana. 

Webb, I, 112. .. . stellarum nutu *II, 19. 

recipiet spiritum vitae et consu- ' II, 20. 
lentibus occultae veritatis mani- 

1 66 


lame con- 

of magic. 

necessary, is true." John presently recognizes that he has 
given away his previous argument against astrology and 
that the devotee of the stars will say that he does not 
care whether his predictions are necessary or not provided 
they are true. " 'Nor does it make any difference to me,' says 
the devotee of the stars, 'whether the affair in question might 
be otherwise, provided I am not doubtful that it will be (as 
I think.)'"! 

John accordingly resorts to other arguments and to 
facetious sarcasm to cover his confusion. Then he recovers 
sufficiently to reiterate his belief that God frequently inter- 
feres in the operation of nature by special providences ; and 
asserts that God has been known to change His mind, while 
the astrologers assert that the stars are constant in their 
influences. Expressing doubt, however, whether Thomas 
Becket will be convinced by his arguments, especially the 
one concerning fate and Providence, or whether he will 
not laugh up his sleeve at such a clumsy attempt to refute 
so formidable a doctrine, John lamely concludes by citing 
Augustine and Gregory against the art, and by affirming 
that every astrologer whom he has known has come to some 
bad end,^ in which assertion he probably simply echoes 

Resuming his discussion of the varieties of magic John 
briefly dismisses necromancers with the hon mot that those 
deserve death who try to acquire knowledge from the dead.^ 
A number of other terms in Isidore's list — auspices, augurs, 
salissatorcs, arioli, pythonici, aruspices — he says it is need- 
less to discuss further since these arts are no longer prac- 
ticed in his day, or at least not openly. Turning to more 
living superstitions of the present, he explains that 
chiromancy professes to discern truths which lie hidden in 
the wrinkles of the hands, but that since there is no ap- 

^ Cap. 24, nee mea, inquit astro- 
rum secretarius, interest an aliter 
esse possit, dum id de quo agitur 
ita futurum esse non dubitem. 

'John's argument against as- 

trology extends from the i8th to 
the 26th chapter of the second 
book of the Polycraticus. 
'II, 27. 




parent reason for this belief it is not necessary to contra- 
vert it. 

John wishes to ask Thomas one thing, however, and 
that is what triflers of this sort say when they are inter- 
rogated concerning uncertain future matters. He knows 
that Becket is famihar with such men because on the occa- 
sion of a recent royal expedition against Brittany he con- 
sulted both an aruspex and a chiromancer. John notes that 
a few days afterwards Thomas "lost without warning the 
morning-star so to speak of your race," and warns him 
that such rhen by their vanity deserve to be consulted no 
more. This gentle rebuke did not avail, however, to wean 
Thomas entirely from his practice of consulting diviners, 
which he continued to do even after he became Archbishop 
of Canterbury. In a letter written to the future martyr 
and saint in 11 70 John again chides Thomas for having 
delayed certain important letters because he had been "de- 
luded by soothsayings which were not of the Spirit" and 
exhorts him "So let us renounce soothsayings in the 
future." 1 

Despite his previous declaration that he need not dis- 
cuss the pythonici, John now proceeds to do so, listing in- 
stances of ambiguous and deceptive Delphic oracles and dis- 
cussing at length the well-worn subject of Saul and the 
witch of Endor. He concludes the chapter by a warning 
against abuse of the practice of exorcism : "For such is the 
slyness of evil spirits that what they do of their own accord 
and what men do at their suggestion, they with great pains 
disguise so that they appear to perform it unwillingly. They 
pretend to be coerced and simulate to be drawn out as it were 
by the power of exorcisms, and that they may be the less 
guarded against they compose exorcisms apparently ex- 
pressed in the name of God or in the faith of the Trinity or 
in the power of the incarnation or passion ; and they transmit 
the same to men and obey men who use these, until they 
finally involve them with themselves in the crime of sacrilege 
^Epistola 297 (Migne, cols. 345-46). 

tion of 

Witch of 



1 68 



science and 

and penalty of damnation. Sometimes they even transform 
themselves into angels of light, they teach only things of 
good repute, forbid unlawful things, strive to imitate purity, 
make provision for needs, so that, as if good and favoring, 
they are received the more familiarly, are heard the more 
kindly, are loved the more closely, are the more readily 

obeyed. They also put on the guise of venerable per- 

" 1 
sons. . . . ^ 

"The speciilarii," John continues, "flatter themselves 
that they immolate no victims, harm no one, often do good 
as when they detect thefts, purge the world of sorceries, 
and seek only useful or necessary truth." ^ He insists that 
the success of their efforts is none the less due to demon 
aid. John tells how as a boy he was handed over for in- 
struction in the Psalms to a priest who turned out to be a 
practitioner of this variety of magic, who after performing 
various adjurations and sorceries tried to have John and 
another boy look into polished basins or finger-nails smeared 
with holy oil or chrism and report what they saw. The 
other boy saw some ghostly shapes but John thanks God 
that he could see nothing and so was not employed hence- 
forth in this manner. He adds that he has known many 
specularii and that they have all suffered loss of their sight 
or some other evil except the aforesaid priest and a deacon, 
and that they took refuge in monasteries and later suffered 
evils above their fellows in their respective congregations. 

John closes his second book with a chapter on natural 
scientists and medical men, for he seems to apply the term 
physici in both senses, although towards the close of the 
chapter he also employs the word medici. He begins by 
saying that it is permissible to consult concerning the future 
anyone who has the spirit of prophecy or who from scien- 
tific training knows by natural signs what will happen in 
the bodies of animals, or who "has learned experimentally 
the nature of the time impending," provided only that these 
latter men say and do nothing prejudicial to the Christian 
'II, 27; Webb, I, iss-56. MI. 28. 


faith. But sometimes the physici attribute too much to 
nature/ and John has heard many of them disputing con- 
cerning the soul and its virtues and operations, the increase 
and diminution of the body, the resurrection, and the crea- 
tion, in a way far from accord with the Christian faith. 
"Of God Himself too they sometimes so speak, 'As if 
earth-born giants assailed the stars.' " ^ John recognizes, 
however, their knowledge of animals and medicine, al 
though he finds their theories sometimes in conflict. As fot 
practicing physicians, he dares not speak ill of them, fob' 
he too often falls into their hands, and he grants that no 
one is more necessary or useful than a good doctor. John 
makes considerable use of the Natural History of Pliny 
and of Solinus, and sometimes for occult or marvelous 
phenomena, as when he cites Pliny concerning men who 
have the power of fascination by voice and tongue or by 
their glances, and adds the testimony of the Physiogno- 

It may be well to review and further emphasize some gummary. 
of the chief features of John's rather rambling discussion. 
Despite its frequent quotations from classic poets and 
moralists, it is theological in tone and content to a degree 
perhaps greater than I have succeeded in suggesting, for to 
repeat all its scriptural passages would be tedious. There 
is even some theological jealousy and suspicion of natural 
science shown. John perhaps more nearly duplicates the 
attitude of Augustine than that of any other writer. Magic 
is represented as inevitably associated with, and the work 
of, demons. John sometimes charges the magic arts with 
being irrational or injurious, but these charges are in a way 
but corollaries of his main thesis. The arts must be harmful 

* II, 29 (Migne, col. 475). Licet tamen his posterioribus nequa- 

tamen ut de futuris aliquis consu- quam quis ita aurem accommodet 

latur, ita quidem si aut spiritu ut fidei aut religioni praejudicet. 

polleat prophetiae, aut ex natu- ... At physici, dum naturae 

ralibus signis quid in corporibus nimium auctoritatis attribuunt, in 

animalium eveniat physica do- auctorem naturae adversando fidei 

cente cognovit, aut si qualitatem plerumque impingunt. 

temporis imminentis experimen- ^ Webb, I. xxxiii and xxxv. 

torum indiciis colligit. Dum 'V, 15 (Webb, I, 345). 


since demons are concerned with them, while the influence 
of demons seems the only rational explanation for their ex- 
istence. John repeats the old Isidorian defiwition of magic 
but he adds some current superstitions and shows that the 
magic arts are far from having fallen into disuse. Finally 
he shows us how vain must have been all the ecclesiastical 
thunders and warnings of demons and damnation, like his 
own, directed against magic, from the fact that not merely 
kings of the past like Saul and Pharaoh, but clergy of the 
present themselves — a priest and a deacon, a chancellor 
and an archbishop of England — practice or patronize such 
arts. Sometimes John's own condemnation of them seems 
a bit perfunctory; he takes more relish, it seems at times, 
in describing them. Again, as in the case of astrology, he 
evidently feels that his opposition will be of little avail. 





Daniel's education — (Bibliographical note^ — Defense of Arabian 
learning — A moderate treatment of moot points between science and 
religion — The four elements and fifth essence — Superiors and in- 
feriors — Daniel's astronomy — Astrological argument — Astrology and 
other sciences — Daniel and Greek : a misinterpretation — Daniel and the 
church : a misinterpretation — Daniel's future influence — Roger of Here- 
ford — An astrology in four parts — Another astrology in four parts — 
Book of Three General Judgments — Summary. 

In discussing Gerard of Cremona in a previous chapter we Daniel's 
noticed the studies at Toledo of Daniel de Merlai or of ^^"^^^^°"- 
Morley, how he heard Gerard translate the Almagest into 

In the following bibliographical 
note the MSS will be listed first 
and then the printed works by or 
concerning Daniel of Morley 

Arundel Z77y I3th century, well- 
written small quarto, fols. 88-103, 
"Philosophia magistri danielis de 
merlai ad iohannem Norwicensem 
episcopum. .../... Explicit 
liber de naturis inferiorum et su- 
periorum." Until very recently 
this was supposed to be the only 
MS of Daniel's sole extant work. 
No other treatise has as yet been 
identified as his, but several other 
MSS may be noted of the whole 
or parts of the aforesaid "Philo- 
sophia" or "Liber de naturis in- 
feriorum et superiorum." 

Corpus Christi 95, 13th century, 
where, according to K. Sudhof? 
in the publication noted below, 
the first two or three books 
ascribed to William of Conches 
are really the work of Daniel of 

Berlin Latin Quarto 387, 12th 

century, 51 fols. Attention was 
called to it by Birkenmajer in the 
publication noted below. It has 
many slips of copyists and is re- 
garded by him as neither the 
original nor a direct copy there- 
of. For the MS to be written in 
the twelfth century this would 
require a very rapid multiplica- 
tion and dissemination of Daniel's 
treatise which was at the earliest 
not composed until after 1175. 

The remaining MSS have not 
hitherto been noted by writers on 
Daniel : 

CUL 1935 (Kk. Li), 13th cen- 
tury, small folio, fols. 98r-io5r 
(and not to iisr, as stated in the 
MSS catalogue, which gives 
Daniel Morley as the author, but 
De creatione mundi as the title). 
From rotographs of fols. 98r-v, 
loor, and I05r, I judge that this 
copy is almost identical with 
Arundel 277 but somewhat less 
legible and accurate. 

Oriel 7, 14th century folio, fols. 




Latin and defend the fatal influence of the stars, and Gal- 
ippus, the Mozarab, teach concerning the universe in 
"the tongue of Toledo," — presumably Spanish. Like Ade- 
lard of Bath, Daniel had long absented himself from Eng- 
land in the pursuit of learning, and had first spent some 
time at Paris, apparently engaged in the study of Roman 
law. He became disgusted, however, with the instruction 

194V-196V (191-193, according to 
Coxe), extracts from De philoso- 
phia Danielis, opening, "Nos qui 
mistice." . . . They are immedi- 
ately preceded by extracts from 
"Adelardi Bathoniensis . . . de 
decisionibus naturalibus." 

Corpus Christi 263, early 17th 
century, fols. i66v-67r, "Ex Dani- 
ele de Merlai (or, "Merlac," ac- 
cording to Coxe) "alias Morley 
in lib. de superioribus et inferiori- 
bus primo De creationis Mundi." 
This MS is one of the notebooks 
of Brian Twyne, the Elizabethan 
antiquary, written in his own 

Twyne perhaps made his ex- 
tracts from Arundel Z77< for im- 
mediately after them he gives ex- 
tracts "from William of Conches 
who is together with Daniel Mer- 
lai in our library," and in Arun- 
del T,y7 Daniel's work is immedi- 
ately followed by that of William 
of Conches. Moreover, of the 
Selden MSS which are now in 
the Bodleian, Supra 72 was once 
owned by Lord "William How- 
arde" who died in 1640, while 
Supra 77 is marked "Arundel," 
referring presumably to Thomas 
Howard, Earl of Arundel, who 
died in 1646, and Supra 79 con- 
sists of astronomical and astro- 
logical treatises copied by Brian 
Twyne. If MSS which once be- 
longed to the Arundel collection 
and to Twyne have thus passed 
somehow into the Selden collec- 
tion and are found listed there 
in close proximity to one another, 
it is at least tempting to conjec- 
ture that the MS containing Dan- 
iel's treatise, followed by that 
of William of Conches, which 
Twyne says was once "in our li- 

brary," somehow became Arundel 

BN 6415 does not contain De 
philosophia Danielis, as stated by 
C. Jourdain (1838) p. loi ; Jour- 
dain, however, regarded Adelard 
of Bath as the author of De 
philosophia Danielis, and BN 
6415 does contain Adelard's Ques- 
tiones naturales. 

Balliol 96, 15th century, a com- 
mentary upon Aristotle's eight 
books of Physics in the form of 
questions and preceded by a pro- 
logue, "Expliciunt questiones su- 
per 8 libros phisicorum compilate 
a domino Mario magistro in arti- 
bus Tholose ac canonico de Tim- 
sey." This does not seem to be 
a work by Daniel of Morley ; a 
cursory examination revealed no 
reason for thinking that domino 
Mario should read Daniele Mer- 
lai, or that Tholose should be 
Thole to. 

I have not examined two MSS 
at Queen's College, Oxford, Reg. 
Ixxi; Ixxiv, 4) containing pedi- 
grees of the Morlay or Morley 
family which may possibly throw 
some light upon Daniel's identity. 

All the printing that has been 
done of Daniel's treatise has 
been based upon Arundel 377. J. 
O. Halliwell, Kara Matheviatica, 
1839, and Thomas Wright, Bio- 
graphia Literaria, London, 1846, 
n, 227-2,0, printed the preface and 
other brief extracts for the first 

Valentin Rose reprinted the 
preface and also published the 
conclusion in his article, "Ptole- 
maeus und die Schule von To- 
ledo," Hermes VIII (1874) 327- 
49. Rose also gave a list of the 
authorities cited by Daniel which 




there and in his preface ^ speaks sarcastically of "the brutes" 
(bestiales) who occupied professorial chairs "with grave au- 
thority" and read from codices too heavy to carry {impor- 
tahiles) which reproduced in golden letters the traditions of 
Ulpian. Holding lead pencils in their hands, they marked 
these volumes reverently with obeli and asterisks. They 
wished to conceal their ignorance by maintaining a digni- 
fied and statuesque silence, "but when they tried to say 
something, I found them most childish." Daniel accordingly 
made haste away to Spain to acquire the learning of the 
Arabs and to hear "wiser philosophers of the universe." 
Finally, however, his friends summoned him back to Eng- 

makes a very large number of 
omissions : for example, f ol. Sgr, 
"sicut in trismegisto repperitur" 
and "isidori" ; f ol. gov, Aristotle, 
"philosophus," "Adultimus" (?), 
"Platonitus"; fol. giv, "Esiodus 
autem naturalis scientie professor 
omnia dixit esse ex terra," and 
so on for "tales milesius," Demo- 
critus, and other Greek philoso- 
phers ; fol. 91V, "sicut ab inex- 
pugnabili sententia magni her- 
metis" ; fol. 92r, "audiat ysidori 
in libro diff erentiarum" ; fol. 92V, 
"unde astrologus ille poeta de 
creatione mundi ait," and "mag- 
nus mercurius" and "trismegistus 
mercurius" and "trismegistus 
mercurius praedicti mercurii ne- 
pos" ; fol. 97r, "Aristotelis in li- 
bro de sensu et sensato," "Albu- 
maxar," "Aristotelis in libro de 
auditu naturali" ; fol. 98V, "in li- 
bro de celi et mundo" ; fol. 99V, 
Almagest, and "Ypocrati et gali- 
eno" ; fol. loov, "liber veneris 
. . . quem ed'dit thoz grecus," 
and "aristoteles ... in libro de 
speculo adurenti." 

Karl Sudhoff, Daniels von 
Morley Liber de naturis inferio- 
rum ei superiorum nach der Hand- 
schrift Cod. Arundel 277 des 
Britischen Museums zum Ab- 
druck gebracht, in Archiv fiir die 
Geschichte der Naturwissenschaf- 
ten und der Technik, Band 8, 1917 
(but not received at the New 
York Public Library until July 8, 

1921). Here is printed for the 
first time the full text of Daniel's 
treatise as contained in Arundel 
377, but from photographs taken 
years before and apparently with- 
out further reference to the MS 
itself. Also according to the fol- 
lowing article by Birkenmajer, 
Sudhoff sometimes renders the 
contractions and abbreviatione in- 
correctly. As Sudhoff's text 
comes late to my hand, I leave 
my references to the folios of 
Arundel 2)77 as they are. These 
folios (with the exception of 
88v) are marked in Sudhoff's 

Alexander Birkenmajer, Bine 
neue Handschrift des Liber de 
naturis inferiorum et superiorum 
des Daniel von Merlai, in the 
same Archiv, December, 1920, pp. 
45-51. gives some variant read- 
ings from Berlin 387. 

Dr. Charles Singer has pub- 
lished a brief account of Daniel 
of Morley in a recent issue of 

The article on Daniel in DNB 
XXXIX (1894) by A. F. Pollard 
is criticized by Sudhoff for fail- 
ing to mention "Roses wichtigste 
Vorarbeit ;" but I observe that 
Sudhoff himself similarly fails to 
mention the publications by 
Halliwell and Thomas Wright 
which preceded both Rose's and 
his own. 

' Fol. 88r. 


land and he returned "with an abundant supply of precious 
volumes." On his arrival he found that the interest in Ro- 
man law had almost completely eclipsed that in Greek phi- 
losophy, and that Aristotle and Plato were assigned to ob- 
livion. Not wishing to remain the sole Greek among Ro- 
mans, he prepared to withdraw again where the studies in 
which he was interested flourished. But on the way he met 
John, bishop of Norwich ( 1 175-1200) who asked him many 
questions concerning his studies at Toledo and the marvels 
of that city, and concerning astronomy and the rule of the 
superior bodies over this sublunar world. Daniel's present 
treatise gives a fuller reply to these inquiries than time then 
permitted him to make. 
Defense Daniel warns his readers at the start not to scorn the 

P.^^r^- simple language and lucid style in which the doctrines of 
bian learn- ^ ., -iiti- 

ing. the Arabs are set forth, or to mistake the laborious circum- 

locutions and ambiguous obscurities of contemporary Latins 
for signs of profound learning. Nor should anyone be 
alarmed because he presents the opinions of Gentile philos- 
ophers instead of church fathers in treating of the crea- 
tion of the world. They may not have been Christians, but 
where their opinions seem sound, Daniel believes in taking 
spoils of learning even from pagans and infidels, as God 
instructed the Hebrews to do in the case of the golden and 
silver vessels of the Egyptians. Thus he borrows the theory 
of a triple universe from an Arabic work. The first uni- 
verse exists only in the divine mind and is neither visible 
nor corporeal, but is eternal. The second universe is in 
work and is visible, corporeal, and in that state not eternal. 
It was created simultaneously with time. The third universe 
is imitative. It is the microcosm and was formed in time 
and is visible and corporeal, but is in part eternal.^ In a 
later passage - Daniel again defends his use of Arabian au- 
thorities, contending that it is only just that one who is al- 
ready informed concerning the opinions about things super- 
celestial of the philosophers in use among the Latins should 
» Fols. 88v-89r. * Fol. 95v. 


also not disdain to listen attentively to the views of the Arabs 
which cannot be impugned. It may be perilous to imitate 
them in some respects, but one should be informed even on 
such points in order to be able to refute and avoid the errors 
to which they lead. 

In general plan, tone, and content, as well as in the Amoder- 
title, Philosophia, Daniel's treatise roughly resembles that ment^oT 
of William of Conches. As Daniel says in his preface, the '"oot 

n 11-11-r- • r ^ ■ i PointS 

first part deals with the mierior portion of the universe, and between 
the second part with the superior part. The work proper science 
opens with a discussion of the creation, in which Daniel ex- ligion. 
presses some rather original ideas, although he treats of such 
time-worn topics as God's creation of the angels, of the 
universe, and of man in His own image, and then of man's 
fall through concupiscence, virtue and vice, and like mat- 
ters. Later he argues against those who hold that the world 
is eternal, but he is not quite ready to accept the Mosaic ac- 
count of creation entire. He argues that in the beginning 
God created heaven and earth and cites Augustine, Isidore, 
and Bede to show that the meaning is that heaven and earth 
were created simultaneously. He then adds that philoso- 
phers are loath to accept the division of the works of crea- 
tion over six days ; in human works it is true that one thing 
must be done before another, but God could dispense every- 
thing with "one eternal word." ^ 

The four elements are discussed a good deal and it is The four 
explained that fire is hot and dry, air is hot and wet, and so ^'^i"f^f".tf 
on.^ To fire correspond cholera, the light of the eyes, and essence, 
curiosity; to air, blood, words, and loquacity; to water, 
phlegm, abundance of natural humors, and lust; to earth, 
melancholy, corpulence, and cruelty.^ Daniel, like Adelard 
of Bath and William of Conches, repeats the doctrine that 
the four elements are not found in a pure state in any bodies 
perceptible to our sense, that no one has ever touched earth 
or water, or seen pure air or fire, and that the four elements 

^ Fol. 96. » Fol. 89V. 

"Fol. 94V. 







are perceptible only to the intellect. Daniel differs from 
Adelard and William, however, in denying that the stars 
are made merely out of the purer parts of the four elements. 
He declares that the Arabs will not agree to this, but that 
the higher authorities in astrology assert that the stars are 
composed of a fifth essence.^ Daniel furthermore speaks of 
three bonds existing between the four elements, stating that 
scientists call the relation between fire and air, obedience; 
that between air and water, harmony; and that between 
water and earth, necessity.^ This faintly reminds one of the 
three relationships between the four principles of things 
which were associated with the names of the three fates in 
the essay on fate ascribed to Plutarch. 

But the greatest bond in nature is that existing between 
the superior and inferior worlds. An oft-repeated and fun- 
damental principle of Daniel's philosophy, and one which 
explains the division of his work into two parts, is the doc- 
trine that superiors conquer inferiors, that the world of the 
sky controls the world of the four elements, and that the 
science of the stars is superior to all other disciplines.^ "The 
sages of this world have divided the world into two parts, 
of which the superior one which extends from the circle of 
the moon even to the immovable heaven is the agent. The 
other, from the lunar globe downwards, is the patient." ■* 
Much depends, however, not only upon the force emitted by 
the agent but upon the readiness of the patient to receive 
the celestial influence. 

Daniel of course believed in a spherical earth and a geo- 
centric universe. Influenced probably by the Almagest, he 
explains the eccentrics of the five planets in a way which he 
regards as superior to what he calls the errors of Martianus 
Capella and almost all Latins, and to the obscure traditions 
which the Arabs have handed down but scarcely understood 
themselves.^ He affirms that there are not ten heavens or 

*Fol. 9SV. 
*Fol. 93V. 
*Fols. 95r-96. 

*FoI. 92r. 
"Fol. loiv. 


spheres, as some have said, but only eight, as Alphraganus 
truly teaches.^ 

There are some men who deny any efficacy to the mo- Astro- 
tions of the stars, but Daniel charges that they for the most argument, 
part condemn the science without knowing anything about 
it, "and hold astronomy in hatred from its name alone." ^ 
He replies that it is useful to foreknow the future and de- 
fends astrology in much the usual manner. He details the 
qualities of the seven planets ^ whom the Arabs call "lords 
of nativities." ^ Also he takes up the properties and at- 
tributes of the signs of the zodiac and how the Arabs divide 
the parts of the human body among them.^ 

Daniel interprets the scope of astrology very broadly. Astrology 
, . , . , 1 . r • 1 and other 

assertmg that it has eight parts : the science of judgments, sciences. 

or what we should call judicial astrology; medicine; nigro- 
mancy according to physics; agriculture; illusions or magic 
{de praestigiis) ; alchemy, "which is the science of the trans- 
mutation of metals into other species ; the science of images, 
which Thoz Grecus set forth in the great and universal book 
of Venus; and the science of mirrors, which is of broader 
scope and aim than the rest, as Aristotle shows in the treatise 
on the burning glass." ^ Except that magic illusions have 
replaced navigation, this list of eight branches of learning 
is the same as that which Gundissalinus repeated from Al- 
Farabi, but which they called branches of natural science 
rather than of astrology. At any rate we see again the close 
association of natural science and useful arts with astrology 
and magic, and necromancy and alchemy, and with pseudo- 
writings of Aristotle and Hermes Trismegistus. In other 
passages Daniel cites genuine Aristotelian treatises "^ and 
speaks of "the great Mercury" and of the other "Mercury 

* Fol. loov. 97r and 98V ; De coelo et mundo, 
'Idem. ibid.; De auditu naturali, fol. gyr. 
*Fol. 99V. I do not know if Al-Farabl's De 

* Fol. I02V. ortu scientiariim is meant by (fol. 
"Fol. I02r. 96r) "Aristotiles m libro de assig- 
"Fol. lOOv. nanda ratione unde orte sunt 
'' De sensu et sensato at fols. scientie." 



Daniel and 
Greek: a 

Trismegistus, the nephew of the aforesaid." ^ Despite his 
subordination of alchemy to astrology in the above passage, 
Daniel does not seem to have it in mind when he remarks 
that there are "some who assign diverse colors of metals 
to the planets," as lead to Saturn, silver to Jupiter, white to 
Venus, and black to Mercury.^ He goes on to deny that 
the stars are really colored any more than the sky is. 

Some modern scholars have drawn inferences from Dan- 
iel's treatise w-ith which I am unable to agree. Mr. S. A, 
Hirsch in his edition of Roger Bacon's Greek Grammar 
follows Cardinal Gasquet ^ in observing concerning Daniel's 
preface, "There can be no clearer testimony than this to the 
complete oblivion into which Greek had in those days fallen 
in western Europe, including England." It may be granted 
that there was and had been little knowledge of Greek 
grammar and the Greek language in twelfth century Eng- 
land, but that is not what Daniel is talking about : indeed, 
there seems to be no reason for believing Daniel himself 
proficient in either Greek grammar or Greek literature, al- 
though he was shrewd enough to question whether Chal- 
cidius always interpreted Plato aright.^ When he calls him- 
self "the only Greek among Romans," he means the only 
one interested in Greek philosophy and astronomy and in 
translations of the same made largely from the Arabic. But 
earlier in the same century we have seen Adelard of Bath, 
William of Conches, and Bernard Silvester interested either 
in Platonism or Arabic science, and the anonymous Sicilian 
translator of the Almagest from the Greek, and before him 
Burgundio of Pisa and other translators from the Greek. 
Therefore all that Daniel's remarks seems to indicate is that 

^ Fols. 92V, 91V, and Spr. 

' Fol. 99r. 

^ Edmund Nolan and S. A. 
Hirsch, The Greek Grammar of 
Roger Bacon, Cambridge, 1902, p. 
xlvii. Gasquet, "English Scholar- 
ship in the Thirteenth Century," 
and "English Biblical Criticism in 
the Thirteenth Century," in The 
Dublin Review (1898), vol. 123, 
pp. 7 and ^62. 

* Fol. 89V, "Calcidius, forte 
minus provide exponens Plato- 
nem, dixit. . . ." We have so 
often been assured that the 
Middle Ages knew Plato only 
through Chalcidius' translation 
of the Timaeus that I think it 
advisable to note this bit of evi- 
dence that the medievals did not 
swallow their Chalcidius whole. 





there was less interest in Greek philosophy in England after 
his return than before he went away, owing to the tempo- 
rary popularity of the study of Roman law. But he knew 
where the studies in which he was interested still flourished. 

A more serious misinterpretation of Daniel's relation to Daniel 
his age is Valentin Rose's assertion that, because of Daniel's church : a 
addiction to Arabian and astrological doctrines, "his book ^j_s^^"^^5''" 
found no favor in the eyes of the church and was shunned 
like poison. It has left no traces in subsequent literature; 
no one has read it and no one cites it." ^ Rose spoke on the 
assumption that only one copy of Daniel's treatise had 
reached us, whereas now we know of several manuscripts of 
it. If it did not become so widely known as some works, 
the more probable reason for this may well be that his brief 
resume of Arabic and astrological doctrines appeared too 
late, when the fuller works of Ptolemy and of the Arabic 
astrologers were already becoming known through complete 
Latin translations. Brief pioneer treatises, like those of 
Adelard of Bath and William of Conches, which had ap- 
peared earlier in the century, had had time to become widely 
known during a period when there was perhaps nothing fuller 
and better available. But Daniel's little trickle of learn- 
ing from Toledo, which does not represent any very consid- 
erable advance over Adelard and William, might well be 
engulfed in the great stream of translations that now poured 
from Spain into Christian western Europe.- It is unrea- 
sonable to conjecture that Daniel's book, which is rather 
mild anyway in its astrological doctrine, and which was 
called forth by the favoring questions of a bishop, was then 
crushed by bitter ecclesiastical opposition; when we know 
that William's book, which actually encountered an ecclesi- 

'Rose (1874), p. 331. Sudhpff 
(1917), p. 4, although himself 
calling attention to a second 
manuscript of Daniel's treatise, 
continues to hold that it "scheint 
wenig Verbreitung gefunden zu 

* Sudhoflf (1917), p. 4, expresses 

a similar opinion. He still, how- 
ever, repeats with respect Rose's 
assertion that the treatise "wie ein 
Gift beseitigt worden," but would 
explain this as less due to Daniel's 
astrological doctrine than his em- 
ploying Arabian authorities in- 
stead of the church fathers. 






astical opposition of which we have no evidence in Daniel's 
case, nevertheless continued in circulation and was much 
cited in the next century; and when we know that both 
Arabic and astrological doctrines and books were wide- 
spread in Christian western Europe both in the twelfth and 
thirteenth centuries. Treatises with more poison of astrol- 
ogy in them than his were read and cited and seem to have 
weathered successfully, if not to have escaped unscathed, 
whatever ecclesiastical censure may have been directed 
against them. If Daniel's own composition did not secure 
a wide circle of readers, the chances are that "the multitude 
of precious volumes" which he imported from Spain to 
England did. And if the work of the pupil remained little 
cited, the translations of the master, Gerard of Cremona, 
who had taught him astrology at Toledo, became known 
throughout western Europe. Thus, while Daniel's personal 
influence may not have been vast, he reflects for us the prog- 
ress of a great movement of which he was but a part. 

But Rose was further mistaken in his assertion that 
Daniel's De philosophia "has left no trace in subsequent lit- 
erature; no one has read it and no one cites it." Not only is 
the work found complete in three manuscripts of which 
Rose did not know, and of which one appears to be twice 
removed from the original. In a manuscript of the four- 
teenth century at Oriel College, Oxford,^ in the fitting com- 
pany of excerpts from Adelard of Bath and Gundissalinus, 
are over three double column folio pages of extracts drawn 
from various portions of the Philosophia. These begin with 
Daniel's excuse for borrowing the eloquence and wisdom of 
the infidels and with some of his utterances anent the crea- 
tion of the world. They include a number of his citations 
of other writers, his story of the two fountains outside the 
walls of Toledo which varied in fulness with the moon's 
phases and contained salt water although remote six days 
journey from the sea, and other bits of his astrological doc- 

^ Oriel 7, fols. 194V-96V: see bib- tion of it and the following MS 
liographical note at beginning of of Brian Twyne. 
this chapter for a fuller dcscrip- 


trine. A similar, although not identical, selection of pearls 
from Daniel's philosophy is found in one of the notebooks 
of Brian Twyne,^ the Elizabethan antiquary, who gives the 
title of Daniel's work as De superioribus et inferioribus and 
makes extracts both from its first and second books. Both 
Twyne and the Oriel manuscript's writer seem to have been 
particularly impressed with Daniel's views concerning the 
creation, rather than his retailing of astrological doctrine. 
Twyne first repeats his statement that the quantity of the 
universe reveals the power of its Maker; its quality, His 
wisdom ; and its marvelous beauty. His unbounded good will. 
Twyne also notes Daniel's phrase, "court of the world," for 
the universe. Both Twyne and the Oriel manuscript note 
the passage concerning the triple universe, and another in 
which Daniel tells how the three human qualities, reason, 
irascibility, and desire, may be either used to discern and 
resist evil, or perverted to evil courses. Both also notice his 
contention that the chaos preceding creation was not hyle 
or matter but a certain contrariety present in matter. 

In the same manuscript with Daniel's treatise is a work Roger of 
by another Englishman, Roger of Hereford,- who was con- Hereford, 
temporary with him, who wrote treatises both in astronomy 
and astrology, and who, again like Daniel, was encouraged 
by a bishop. We are not, I believe, directly informed whether 
any of his works were translations from the Arabic or 
whether he was ever in Spain, but some of them sound as if 
they might be at least adaptations from the Arabic. At any 
rate Alfred of England dedicated to Roger the tranblation 
which he made from the Arabic of the pseudo-Aristotelian 
De vegetabilihus. Astronomical tables which Roger calcu- 
lated for the meridian of Hereford in 1178 are based upon 
tables for Marseilles and Toledo, and the manuscript of one 
of his works is said by the copyist of 1476 to have been 

^ Corpus Christi 263, fols. 166-7. 8, supplements and supersedes the 

' Professor Haskins' account of article in DNB. Where I do not 

Roger's life and works in his "In- cite authorities for statements that 

troduction of Arabic Science into follow in the text, they may be 

England," EHR (191 5). XXX, 65- found in Haskins' article. 



An as- 
in four 

taken by him from an ancient codex written in Toledo in 
the year 1247.^ Other astronomical treatises attributed to 
Roger are a Theory of the Planets, a Treatise concerning 
the rising and setting of the Signs, and a Compotiis which 
dates itself in 1176 and is addressed to a Gilbert^ who 
seems to be no other than Foliot, bishop of Hereford until 
1 163 and thereafter bishop of London. The signature of 
Roger of Hereford attests one of his documents in 1173- 
II 74. In 1 1 76 in the preface to the Compotits^ Roger 
speaks of himself as iuvenis, and the heading in the manu- 
script even calls him "Child Roger" or "Roger Child," ^ 
but he also says that he has devoted many years to learning, 
so that we need not regard him as especially youthful at that 
time. The definite dates in his career seem to fall in the 
decade from 11 70 to 1180, although his association with 
Alfred of England may well have been later. 

Professor Haskins ascribes one or more astrological 
works to Roger of Hereford and lists a number of manu- 
scripts with three diiTerent Incipits} Some of these manu- 
scripts I have examined. One at Paris has the Titiilus, "In 
the name of God the pious and merciful, here opens the 
book of the division of astronomy and its four parts com- 
posed by the famous astrologer Roger of Hereford." ® 

^ BN 10271, fol. 203V, quoted by and called him Roger Yonge. 

" Haskins is not quite accurate 
in saying (p. 67), "Royal MS 12 
F, 17 of the British Museum, 
catalogued as 'Herefordensis 
indicia' is really the treatise of 
Haly, Dc iudiciis," for while the 
MS does contain Egidius de 
Tebaldis' translation of Haly de 
iudiciis in a fourteenth century 
hand, on its fly-leaves are in- 
serted in a fifteenth century 
hand both "indicia Herfordensis" 
and a treatise on conjunctions of 
John Eschenden. Moreover, all 
these items are listed both in the 
old and the new catalogue of the 
Roval MSS. 

' BN 10271. written in T476. 1481 
A. D., etc., fol. 179-, "In nomine 
dei pii et misericordis Incipit 
liber de divisione astronomic atque 

Haskins (1915), p. 67. It seems 
to me, however, from an exam- 
ination of the MS that Roger's 
work concludes at fol. 20iv, "Ex- 
plicit liber," and that this extract, 
"Ad habendam noticiam quis est 
vel erit dominus anni," at fol. 
203V, may be another matter. 

' The initial letters of the table 
of contents form the acrostic, 
"Gilleberto Rogerus salutes 
H. D." 

' Printed in part by T. Wright, 
Bio graph, Lit., p. 90 ei seq. 

* Digby 40, fol. 65, "Pref atio 
magistri Rogeri Infantis in com- 
potum" ; Haskins conjectures that 
Infantis may be a corruption for 
Hereford, or an equivalent for 
the iuvenis of the text ; but Le- 
land took it as Roger's surname 


Roger explains that the first part is general and concerned 
with such matters as "peoples, events, and states, changes of 
weather, famine, and mortality." The second is special and 
deals with the fate of the individual from birth to life's close. 
The third deals with interrogations and the fourth with 
elections. The first chapter of the first part is entitled, "Of 
the properties of the signs and planets in any country," and 
opens with the statement that it has been proved by experi- 
ence that the signs Aries and Jupiter have dominion in the 
land "baldac and babel and herach," Libra and Saturn in 
the land of the Christians, Scorpion and Venus in the land 
of the Arabs, Capricorn and Mercury in India, Leo and 
Mars over the Turks, Aquarius and the Sun in Babylonia, 
Virgo and the Moon in Spain. The other five signs seem 
to be left without a country.^ Chapter two tells how to find 
what sign dominates in any villa; three, of the powers of 
the planets in universal events; four, of the science of the 
annual significance of the planets; five, knowledge of rains 
for the four seasons; six, knowledge of winds in any villa; ^ 
nine, the twenty-eight mansions of the moon. After the 
tenth chapter distinguishing these mansions as dry and wet 
and temperate, the second part on nativities opens with the 
retrospective statement, "Now we have treated of the first 
part of this art, omitting what many astrologers have said 

de eius quatuor partibus composi- sunt numero c.xx." Unfortu- 

tus per clarum Rogerium Herfort nately I have not been able to 

Astrologum." The text proper compare edition and manuscript 

opens : "Quoniam principium huic in detail. Both may represent 

arti dignum duximus de quatuor texts of late date which have re- 

eius partibus agamus." arranged or added variously to 

^ This chapter is almost exactly the original, whether it be by 

like the first chapter of the first John or Roger. Or both John and 

book of the printed edition of Roger may have taken similar 

John of Seville's Epitome totius liberties with a common Arabic 

astrologiae, and the general plan source. John's authorship appears 

of the two treatises and their em- to be supported by more MSS 

phasis upon experience are very than Roger's. 

similar, although there also seem " Caps. 7 and 8, at fol. i82r-v, 

to be considerable divergences. are, "De proprietate signorum in 

For instance, the next chapter in qualibet terra" and "De cognitione 

the printed text is different, "De de bono anno vel male." 
coniunctionibus planetarum, quae 


without experience and without reason." ^ After a dozen 
chapters on the significance of the twelve houses in na- 
tivities, the author again asserts that in his discussion of 
that subject he has said nothing except what learned men 
agree upon and experience has tested.^ After devoting three 
chapters to the familiar astrological theme of the revolution 
of years, he takes up in the third and fourth books ^ inter- 
rogations according to the twelve houses and elections, which 
are made in two ways according as the nativity is or is not 
known. The invocation of God the pious and compassion- 
ate in the Tittdiis and the list of countries and peoples in the 
first chapter have a Mohammedan and oriental flavor and 
suggest that the work is a translation. 
Another Different from the foregoing is another work dealing 

m7our^ with four parts of judicial astrology which the manuscripts 
parts. ascribe to Roger of Hereford. Its opening words * and the 

subjects of its four parts all differ from those of the other 
treatise. Its first part deals with "simple judgment"; its 
fourth part, with "the reason of judgment"; while its sec- 
ond and third parts instead of third and fourth, as in the 
foregoing treatise, deal with interrogations, now called 
Cogitatio, and elections.^ I know of no manuscript where 
this second work is to be found complete ; in fact, I am in- 
clined to surmise that usually the manuscripts give only the 
first of its four parts. ^ It professes at the start to be a 

* Fol. 183V, "lam egimus de * Berlin 964, 15th century, fol. 
prima parte huius arte omissis que 87-, "Quoniam regulas artis as- 
astrologi multi sine experimento tronomie iudicandi non nisi per 
et ratione dixerunt." diversa opera dispersas invenimus 

* Fol. 190V (cap. 14, de revo- universali astrologorum desiderio 
lutione annorum nativitatis), satisfacere cupientes. . . ." Other 
"lam radicem nativitatis sermone MSS similar. 

complevimus nee diximus nisi in * Selden supra 76, fol. 3v, de 

quibus sapientes convenerunt et simplici iudicio, de cogitatione, de 

experimentum ex ipsis habetur." electione, de ratione iudicii. 

The same sentence occurs in * Digby 149, 13th century, fols. 

John of Spain, Epitome totius as- 189-95, ''Liber de quatuor parti- 

trologiae, 1548, II, xx, fol. 62v. bus astronomic iudiciorum editus 

'Book 3, fols. I92v-i99r, has 16 a magistro Rogero de Herefordia. 

chapters; Book 4, fols. 199V-201V, Quoniam regulas astronomie artis 

has ten. The division into chap- .../... Explicit prima pars." 

ters is different in the printed text CUL 1693, 14th century, fols. 

ascribed to John of Spain. 40-51, "Liber Magistri Rogeri de 


brief collection of rules of judicial astrology hitherto only 
to be found scattered through various works. Astrology is 
extolled as an art of incomparable excellence without which 
other branches of learning are fruitless. "They appear to 
a few through experiments ; ... it gives most certain ex- 
periments." ^ The first book treats of the properties of the 
signs and planets, of the twelve houses, and defines a long 
list of astrological terms such as respectus, applicatio, sepa- 
ratio, periclitus, solitudo, cdlevatio, translatio, collatio, red- 
ditto, contradictio, impeditio, evasio, interruptio , compassio, 
renuntiatio, and receptio.^ Some tables are also given, in 
connection with one of which we are told that the longest 
hour at Hereford excedes the shortest by eleven degrees and 
forty minutes.^ 

To Roger is also ascribed a Book of Three General Book of 
Judgments of Astronomy, from which all others flow, which g/neral 
sometimes is listed separately in the manuscripts and appar- Judg- 
ently is found alone as a distinct work,^ but in other manu- 
scripts ^ seems to be an integral part of the work of four 
parts which we have just described. Its three general judg- 
ments are: gaining honors and escaping evils; intentio vet 
meditacio, which, like the cogitacio mentioned above, refers 

Herfordia de iudiciis Astronomic. astronomica consideratio . . . / 
Quoniam Regulas artis Astrono- . . . sed non respiciens 3. Ex- 
mice .../... oportet inspicere plicit." 

diligenter et completur Liber In the following MS it follows 
primus." the first book of the work in four 
I shall presently show reason parts but is listed as distinct there- 
for thinking that Selden supra 76 from in the catalogue : 
and MS E Musaeo 181 also give CUL 1693, 14th century, fols. 
only the first part. 5i-59> "Liber de tribus generali- 
^ Selden supra 76, fol. 3r. bus iudiciis astronomic ex quibus 
^ Selden supra 76, fol. 6, has only cetera omnia defiuunt editus a 
those terms from redditio on; the Magistro Rogero de Herfordia. 
others will be found in MS E Quoniam circa tria sit (fit?) om- 
Musaeo 181. nis astronomica consideratio . . . 
' Selden supra 76, fol. Sr. / . . . minimus vero septem hora- 
* BN 7434, 14th century, ft 5, de rum et 20 minutorum etc." This 
tribus generalibus iudiciis as- last is not the same ending as in 
tronomie ex quibus certa (cete- Dijon 1045, but would seem to 
ra?) defluunt. . . . refer to the length of the shortest 

Dijon 1045 (the same, I judge, day. 

as that numbered 270 by Has- " Selden supra 76 and MS E 

kins), 15th century, fol. 172V-, Musaeo 181. 
"Quoniam circa tria fit omnia 




to interrogations; and comparatio vel electio which of course 
is elections. Thus the second and third parts of this Book 
of Three General Judgments deal with the same subjects 
as the second and third books of the work in four parts, 
which makes it difficult to distinguish them. I am inclined 
to think that in those manuscripts where the Book of Three 
General Judgments seems an integral part of the work in 
four parts, we really have simply the first of the four parts, 
followed by the Book of Three General Judgments} At any 
rate it seems clear that most of Roger's astrological composi- 
tion is on the theme of interrogations and elections. Indicia 
Herefordensis,^ found in more than one manuscript, may 
come from a fourth work of his or be portions of the fore- 
going works. 

In this chapter we have treated of two Englishmen of 
the latter half of the twelfth century who are not generally 
known.^ They were not, however, without influence, as we 

* As we have already seen to be 
the case in CUL 1693, fols. 40-51- 
59. In Selden supra 76, the work 
in four parts begins at fol. 3r, 
"Liber magistri Rogeri Hereford 
de iudiciis astronomicis. Quoniam 
regulas artis. . . ." At fol. loy, 
Liber de tribus generalibus iudi- 
ciis astronomie ex quibus cetera 
omnia defluunt, editus a magis- 
tro Rogero Hereford. In three 
books and a prologue, opening, 
"Quoniam circa tria fit omnis 
astronomica consideracio. . . ." 
The question then arises, do fol. 
14V, "Incipit liber secundus de 
cogitatione. Sed quum iam de 
intentione et cogitatione tractan- 
dum . . ." ; and fol. i8r, "In- 
cipit liber tercius de electione vel 
operatione per quod fiat electio" ; 
have reference to the last two 
books of Three General Judg- 
ments or to the two middle books 
of the work in four parts? Ap- 
parently the former, since there is 
no fourth part given; at fol. 20 
seems to open another treatise, 
Liber de niotibiis planetarum. 

MS E Musaeo 181 has the same 
arrangement as Selden supra 76, 

fols. 10-18, but ends with the sec- 
ond book De cogitacione. For 
the first of the four parts it is 
fuller than Selden supra 76, fols. 

Laud. Misc. 594, fols. I36-I37r, 
beginning mutilated, opens "illius 
signi et duodenarie ostendentis" 
and ends "secunda si vero re- 
spiciens tertia. Explicit liber de 
quatuor partibus iudiciorum as- 
tronomiae editus a magistro 
Rogero de Hereford." But the 
closing words, "respiciens tertia," 
are those connected with the In- 
cipit of the Book of Three Gen- 
eral Judgments in Dijon 1045, a 
good illustration of the complexi- 
ties of the problem. 

' Besides the fly-leaf of Royal 
12-F-17, mentioned above in a 
note, Ashmole 192, $2, pp. 1-17, 
"Expliciunt iudicia Herfordensis 
multum bona et utilia." It will 
be noted that in Selden supra 76 
the title Dc iudiciis is applied to 
to the work in four parts. 

^ Neither name, for example, 
despite the devotion of both to 
astrology, appears in the index of 
T. O. Wedel's, The Mediaeval 


have already shown in the case of Daniel of Morley and as 
the number of manuscripts of the works of Roger of Here- 
ford sufficiently attests for him. Daniel and Roger show 
that the same interest in astrology and astronomy from Ara- 
bic sources prevails at the close of the century in England 
as at its beginning in the cases of Walcher, prior of Malvern, 
and Adelard of Bath. Daniel, like Adelard, illustrates the 
relation of science to Christian thought; Roger, like Wal- 
cher, is an astronomer who makes and carefully records ob- 
servations of his own,^ while he trusts in astrology as based 
upon experience. As Alfred of England dedicated his trans- 
lation of the pseudo-Aristotelian De vegetabilibus to Roger, 
so he dedicated his De motii cordis {On the Motion of the 
Heart) to a third Englishman, Alexander Neckam, to whom 
and his work On the Natures of Things {De naturis rerum) 
we turn in the next chapter for a picture of the state of sci- 
ence in his time. 

Attitude toward Astrology par- nium planetarum compositi a 

ticularly in England, Yale Uni- magistro Rogero super annos 

versity Press, 1920. domini ad mediam noctem Here- 

^ For example, in the same MS for die anno ab incarnatione domi- 

with Daniel of Alorley's work, ni mclxxviii post eclipsim que 

Arundel 377, fol. 86v, de altitudine contigit Hereford eodem anno" 

Solis etc. apud Toletum et Here- (13 September), 
fordiam; Ibid., "Anni collecti cm- 



Birth and childhood — Education — The state of learning in his time- 
Popular science and mechanical arts — His works — De naturis rerutn — 
Neckam's citations — His knowledge of Aristotle — Use of recent authors 
— Contemporary opinion of Neckam — His attitude toward natural 
science — Science and the Bible — His own knowledge of science — In- 
credible stories of animals — A chapter on the cock — Effect of sin upon 
nature — Neckam on occult virtues — Fascination — His limited belief in 
astrology — Neckam's farewell. 

Birth and 


In the year 1157 an Englishwoman was nursing two babies. 
One was a foster child; the other, her own son. During the 
next fifty years these two boys were to become prominent 
in different fields. The fame of the one was to be unsur- 
passed on the battlefield and in the world of popular music 
and poetry. He was to become king of England, lord of 
half of France, foremost of knights and crusaders, and the 
idol of the troubadours. He was Richard, Cceur de Lion. 
The other, in different fields and a humbler fashion, was 
none the less also to attain prominence; he was to be clerk 
and monk instead of king and crusader, and to win fame in 
the domain of Latin learning rather than Provengal liter- 
ature. This was Alexander Neckam. Of his happy child- 
hood at St. Albans he tells us himself in Latin verse some- 
what suggestive of Gray's lines on Eton : 

Hie locus aetatis nostrae primordia novit 
Annos felices laetitiaeque dies 
Hie locus 'ingenuis pueriles imbuit annos 
Artibus et nostrae laudis origo fuit, 

A number of years of his life were spent as teacher 
at Dunstable in a school under the control of the monastery 


of St. Albans. It was at Paris, however, that he received 
his higher education and also taught for a while. Scarcely 
any place, he wrote late in life, was better known to him 
than the city in whose schools he had been "a small pillar" 
and where he "faithfully learned and taught the arts, then 
turned to the study of Holy Writ, heard lectures in Canon 
Law, and upon Hippocrates and Galen, and did not find Civil 
Law distasteful." This passage not only illustrates his own 
broad education in the liberal arts, the two laws, medicine, 
and theology, but also suggests that these four faculties were 
already formed or forming at Paris. Neckam visited Italy, 
as his humorous poem bidding Rome good-by attests, and 
from two of the stories which he tells in The Natures of 
Things ^ we may infer that he had been in Rouen and 
Meaux. In 12 13 Neckam was elected abbot of Cirencester, 
and died in 12 17. An amusing story is told in connection 
with Neckam's first becoming a monk. He is said to have 
first applied for admission to a Benedictine monastery, but 
when the abbot made a bad pun upon his good name, saying, 
Si bonus es, venias; si nequam, nequaqiiani (If you are a 
good man you may come; if Neckam, by no means), he 
joined the Augustinians instead.^ 

Neckam gives us a glimpse of the learned world of his The state 
time as well as of his own education. He thinks past times fng.^^*^"" 
happy, when he recalls that "the greatest princes were dili- 
gent and industrious in aiding investigation of nature," and 
that it was then commonly said, "An illiterate king is a 
crowned ass." ^ But he is not ashamed of the schools of 
his own day. After speaking of the learning of Greece and 
Egypt in antiquity and stating that schools no longer flour- 
ish in those lands, he exclaims, "But what shall I say of 

*I, 37 and II, 158. Aevi Scriptores, vol. 34, London, 

' For references to the sources 1863. All references in this chap- 

for the above facts of Neckam's ter, unless otherwise noted, will 

life see the first few pages of the be to this volume, and to the book 

preface to Thomas Wright's edi- and chapter of the De naturis 

tion of the De naturis rerum, and rerum. 

the De laudibus divinae sapientiae, ' II, 21. 
in Rerum Britannicarutn Medii 


Salerno and Montpellier where the diligent skill of medical 
students, serving the public welfare, provides remedies to 
the whole world against bodily ills? Italy arrogates to it- 
self proficiency in the civil law, but celestial scripture and 
the liberal arts prefer Paris to all other cities as their home. 
And in accord with Merlin's prophecy the wisdom now 
flourishes at Oxford which in his time was in process of 
transfer to Ireland." ^ Neckam's assertion that there were 
no schools in the Greece and Egypt of his day is interesting 
as implying the insignificance of Byzantine and Mohamme- 
dan learning in the second half of the twelfth century. He 
perhaps does not think of Constantinople as in "Greece," 
but in Egypt he must certainly include Cairo, where the 
mosque el-Azhar, devoted in 988 to educational purposes, 
"has been ever since one of the chief universities of Islam." ^ 
At any rate it is clear that to his mind the intellectual su- 
premacy has now passed to western Europe. 
Popular In his praises of learning Neckam is a little too inclined, 

^ndm*- ^^^^ many other Latin writers, to speak slightingly of the 
chanical vulgus or common crowd. In antiquity, he affirms, the lib- 
eral arts were the monopoly of free men; mechanical or 
adulterine arts were for the ignoble.^ This does not mean, 
however, that his eyes are closed to the value of practical 
inventions, since both in The Natures of Things and his De 
utensilibus we find what are perhaps the earliest references 
to the mariner's compass * and to glass mirrors.' Indeed, 
he often entertains us with popular gossip and superstition, 
mentioning for the first time the belief in a man in the 
moon,^ and telling such stories of daily life as that of the 
lonely sailor whose dog helped him reef the sails and man- 
age the ropes of the boat in crossing the Channel,'^ or of the 
sea-fowl whose daily cry announced to the sheep in the 
^ 11, 174. thority for his further observa- 

* S. Lane-Poole, The Story of tion, "The employment of glass 
Cairo. London, 1902, p. 124. for mirrors was known to the 

*II, 21. ancients, but appears to have been 

*II, 98. Wright, Volume of entirely superseded by metal." 
Vocabularies, p. 96. * L 14. 

'11, 154, and Wright, Preface, MI, 20. 

p. 1, note. Wright cives no au- 





tidal meadow that it was time to seek higher pasture, until 
one day its beak was caught by the shell of an oyster it tried 
to devour and the sheep were drowned for lack of warning.^ 

Neckam's writings were numerous, and, as might have 
been expected from his wide studies, in varied fields. They 
include grammatical treatises,- works on Ovid and classical 
mythology, commentaries upon the books of the Bible such 
as the Psalms and Song of Songs, and the writings of Aris- 
totle, and other works of a literary, scientific, or theological 
character.^ Most of them, however, if extant, are still in 
manuscript. Only a few have been printed; * among them is 
The Natures of Things which we shall presently consider. 

Neckam is a good illustration of the humanistic move- 
ment in the twelfth century. He wrote Latin verse ^ as well 
as prose; took pains with and pride in his Latin style; and 
shows acquaintance with a large number of classical authors. 
He had some slight knowledge, at least, of Hebrew. He 


* Such as his "Corrogationes 
Promethei" found at Oxford in 
the following MSS : Laud. Misc. 
112, 13th century, fols. 9-42; Mer- 
ton College 254, 14th century; 
Bodleian (Bernard 4094) and 550 
(Bernard 2300), middle of 13th 

•HL Xyill (1835), 521 was 
mistaken in saying that the De 
naturis rerutn is the only one of 
Neckam's works found in conti- 
nental libraries, for see Evreux 
72, 13th century. Alexandri 
Neckam opuscula, fol. 2. "Cor- 
rectiones Promethei," fol. 26v, 
"super expositione quarundem 
dictionum singulorum librorum 
Bibliothece scilicit de significa- 
tione eorum et accentu." And 
there is a copy of his De utensili- 
bus in BN 15171, fol. 176. 

* The De utensilibus was also 
edited by Thomas Wright in 1857 
in A Volume of Vocabularies. 
Professor Haskins has printed "A 
List of Text-books from the Close 
of the Twelfth Century" in Har- 
vard Studies in Classical Phi- 
lology, XX (1909), 90-94, which 

he argues is from a work by 
Neckam (Gonville and Caius Col- 
lege MS 385, pp. 7-61). In 1520 
there was printed under the name 
of Albericus a work which is 
really by Neckam, as a MS at 
Oxford bears witness, Digby 221, 
14th century, fol. i. "Mithologie 
Alexandri Neckam et alio nomine 
Sintillarium appellatur" ; Incipit, 
"Fuit vir in Egipto ditissimus 
nomine Syrophanes." In the same 
MS, fols. 34V -85, follows another 
work, "Alexander Nequam super 
Marcianum de nuptiis Mercurii et 
Philologie." See also in the 
Bodleian (Bernard 2019, It 3, and 
2581, Jt6) Scintillarium Poiseos 
in quo de diis gentium et nomini- 
bus deorum et philosophorum de 
eis opiniones ubi et de origine 

° See M. Esposito, "On Some 
Unpublished Poems Attributed to 
Alexander Neckam," in English 
Historical Reviczv, XXX (1915), 
450-71. He prints several poems 
on wine, etc., and gives a bibli- 
ography of Neckam's works, five 
printed and eleven in MSS. 




was especially addicted, according to Wright/ to those in- 
genious but philologically absurd derivations of words in 
which the Etymologies of Isidore of Seville had dealt, ex- 
plaining, for example, the Latin word for corpse {cadaver) 
as compounded from the three roots seen in the words for 
flesh {caro), given (data), to worms (vermibus). Yet in 
one chapter of The Natures of Things Neckam attacks 
"the verbal cavils" and use of obsolete words in his time as 
"useless and frivolous," and asks if one cannot be a good 
jurist or physician or philosopher without all this linguistic 
and verbal display." Wright, moreover, was also impressed 
by Neckam's interest in natural science, calling him "cer- 
tainly one of the most remarkable English men of science 
in the twelfth century," ^ and noting that "he not infre- 
quently displays a taste for experimental science." ^ 
De The Natures of Things, however, is not primarily a 

iiaturis scientific or philosophical dissertation, as Alexander is care- 
ful to explain in the preface, but a vehicle for moral instruc- 
tion. Natural phenomena are described, but following each 
comes some moral application or spiritual allegory thereof. 
The spots on the moon, for instance, are explained by some 
as due to mountains and to depressions which the sun's light 
cannot reach, by others as due to the greater natural obscur- 
ity of portions of the moon. Neckam adds that they are 
for our instruction, showing how even the heavenly bodies 
were stained by the sin of our first parents, and reminding 
us that during this present life there will always be some 
blot upon holy church, but that when all the planets and stars 
shall stand as it were justified, our state too will become 
stable, and both the material moon and holy church will be 
spotless before the Lamb.^ Neckam intends to admire God 
through His creatures and in so doing humbly to kiss as it 
were the feet of the Creator. Despite this religious tone 
and the moralizing, Wright regarded the work "as an inter- 
esting monument of the history of science in western Eu- 

'P. xiii. *P. xii. 

*II, 174. "I, 14. 


rope and especially in England during the latter half of the 
twelfth century," ^ and as such we shall consider it. That 
it was written before 1200 is to be inferred from a quotation 
from it by a chronicler of John's reign. ^ It seems to have 
been the best known of Neckam's works. The brevity of 
The Natures of Things, which consists of but two books, 
if we omit the other three of its five books which consist of 
commentaries upon Genesis and Ecclesiastes, hardly allows 
us to call it an encyclopedia; but its title and arrangement 
by topics and chapters closely resemble the later works which 
are usually spoken of as medieval encyclopedias. Later in 
life Neckam wrote a poetical paraphrase of it with consider- 
able changes, which is entitled De laudibus divinae sapien- 

The citations of authorities in the De naturis rerum are Neckam's 
of much interest. A number of references to the law books ^'^^^'o"*- 
of Justinian show NecKam's knowledge of the Roman law,^ 
and, as we should expect after hearing of his commentary 
upon Ovid's Metamorphoses, allusions to that work, the 
Fasti, and the Ars amandi are frequent. Claudian is once 
quoted for two solid pages and considerable use is made of 
other Latin poets such as Vergil, Lucan, Martial, and Juve- 
nal. Neckam believed that the diligent investigator could find 
much that was useful in the inventions of the poets and that 
beneath their fables moral instruction sometimes lay hid.* 
Neckam quotes Plato, perhaps indirectly, and repeats in 
different words the fable of the crow and fox, as given in 

* Pp. xiv-xv. to note a third, MS Z72)7 in the 

'Wright (p. Ixxvii) used four Harleian collection of the British 

MSS of the 13th or very early Museum. It is of the 13th cen- 

14th century. At Corpus Christi tury according to the catalogue 

College, Oxford, there is a beau- and contains this interesting 'm- 

tifully written twelfth century scription, "Hie est liber S. Al- 

copy which he did not use, MS bani quam qui abstulerit aut titu- 

45, folio, 186 fols., double col- lum deleverit anathema sit. 

umns. Comment, in Genesim et Amen." (This book belongs to 

Ecclesiasten, sive de naturis rerum St. Albans. May he who steals 

libri quinque; "Explicit tract. it or destroys the title be anath- 

mag. Alex. Neckham super ema. Amen.) 
Ecclesiasten de naturis rerum." *I, 75, II, 155, 173. 

Although Wright used two MSS *II, 11; II, 107; II 12; II, 126. 

from the Royal Library, he fails 


Apuleius.^ The church fathers are of course utilized — 
Augustine, Jerome, Gregory, Basil, and a more recent theo- 
logian like Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury; and familiar- 
ity is shown with the early medieval standard authorities, 
such as Boethius, Cassiodorus, Bede, and Isidore. Of writ- 
ers who may be regarded as dealing more particularly with 
natural science there are mentioned Pliny and Solinus on 
animals — but he seems to use Pliny very little and Solinus a 
great deal, Macer and Dioscorides on the properties and ef- 
fects of herbs,^ while works in the domain of astronomy or 
astrology are attributed to Julius (perhaps really Firmicus) 
and Augustus Caesar as well as to Ptolemy.^ 
His But what is most impressive is the frequent citation 

ofTr'is^^^ from Euclid and Aristotle, especially the latter. Not only 
totle. the logical treatises are cited, but also the History of 

Animals * and the Liber Coeli et Mundi, while allusion 
is also made to Aristotle's opinions concerning vision, mo- 
tion, melancholy, waters, and various astronomical matters.^ 
Such passages — as well as the fact that commentaries on 
Aristotle are ascribed to Neckam — suggest that Roger Ba- 
con was mistaken in the much-quoted passage in which he 
states that the works of Aristotle on natural philosophy 
were first introduced to the medieval (Latin) learned world 

* In H. E. Butler's translation, use the Greek word "narcos." 
Oxford, 1909, given as Florida, Moreover, Neckam seems to give 
cap. 26; in the MSS and in Hilde- credit as a rule to his immediate 
brand's text, pars II, Lipsiae, sources and not to copy their cita- 
1842, included in the prologus to tions ; as we have seen, he credited 
the De Deo Socratis, with which the fable of the fox and crow to 
we may therefore infer that Apuleius and not to Aesop to 
Neckam was acquainted. Indeed whom Apuleius credits it. 

there is a twelfth century manu- "11, 153. Sed Aristoteli magis 

script of the De Deo Socratis in credendum esse reor quam vulgo. 

the British Museum — Harleian I, 39. Dicit tamen Aristoteles 

3969. quod nihil habet duos motus con- 

*II, 166. trarios. I, 7. Aristoteles qui 

*II, 12. dicit, "Solos melancholicos in- 

* II, 44. Narcos piscis est tan- geniosos esse." II, i. Secundum 
tae virtutis, ut dicit Aristoteles. veritatem doctrinae Aristotelicae 
... II, 159. Ut docet Aristoteles, omnes aquae sunt indiflferentes se- 
omnia mula sterilis est. While cundum speciem. I, 9. Placuit 
the substance of these two pas- itaque acutissimo Aristoteli plane- 
sages is found in Pliny's Natural tas tantum cum firmamento mo- 
History, he does not mention veri. Sed quid? Aristoteli audent 
Aristotle in these connections nor sese opponere? . • . etc. 


in Latin translations by Michael Scot about 1230. Neckam 
perhaps cites the History of Animals indirectly : at any rate 
he makes little use of it; but his numerous mentions of Aris- 
totle's views on nature make it evident that "the truth 
of Aristotelian" doctrine is already known in the twelfth 
century. And he already regards "the most acute Aristotle" 
as the pre-eminent authority among all philosophers. After 
stating that "all philosophers generally seem to teach" that 
the planets move in a contrary direction to the firmament 
like flies w^alking on a rushing wheel, Neckam adds a num- 
ber of objections to this view, and adds, "It therefore was 
the opinion of Aristotle, the most acute, that the planets 
moved only with the firmament." He then expresses his 
amazement that the other philosophers should have dared to 
oppose Aristotle, should have presumed to set their opinions 
against so great a philosopher. It is as if a peacock spread 
its spotted tail in rivalry with the starry sky, or as if owls 
and bats should vie with the eagle's unblinking eye in staring 
at the mid-day sun.^ 

That Neckam had some acquaintance with Arabic and Use of 
Jewish writers is indicated by his citing Alfraganus and authors 
Isaac. Of Christian writers of the century before him Neck- 
am quotes from Hildebert, and four times from Bernard 

* It would therefore seem that tabilibus and of an appendix to 

Professor Haskins (EHR, 30, 68) the Meteorologica consisting of 

is scarcely justified in saying that three chapters De congelatis, also 

"the natural philosophy and meta- translated from the Arabic, 

physics of Aristotle" are "cited in Alfred was no isolated figure in 

part but not utilized by Alexander English learning, since he dedi- 

Neckam," especially since he cated the De vegetabilibus to 

states presently that "Neckam Roger of Hereford and the De 

himself seems to have been ac- motu cordis to Neckam: ed. 

quainted with the Metaphysics, Baruch, Innsbruck, 1878; and see 

De Anima, and De gcneratione et Baeumker, Die Stellung des Alfred 

corruptione" (Ibid., 69, and "A von Sareshel . . . in der Wissen- 

List of Textbooks," Harvard schaft des beginnenden XIII 

Studies, XX (igo9), 7S-94). Pro- Jahrts., Miinchen, Sitzber. (1913), 

fessor Haskins, however, believes No. 9. On the whole it is prob- 

that the new Aristotle was by this ably safe to assume that his 

time penetrating England, but knowledge of Aristotle was soon 

gives the main credit for this to at least, if not from the start, 

Alfredus Anglicus or Alfred of shared with others. Grabmann 

Sareshel, the author of the De (1916), pp. 22-2S, adds nothing 

motu cordis, and the translator of new on the subject of Neckam's 

the Pseudo-Aristotelian De vege- knowledge of Aristotle. 



opinion of 






Silvester. He cites the Pantegni or Tegni of Constantinus 
Africanus more than once.^ He does not mention Adelard 
of Bath by name but in discussing experiments with vacuums 
repeats the experiment of the water jar. In another chap- 
ter he states that, if the earth were perforated, an enormous 
weight of lead would fall only to the center. Neckam's chap- 
ter on "Why in the same earth plants grow of contrary ef- 
fects" is similar to the third chapter of the Natural Ques- 
tions of Adelard, and his chapter on "Why certain animals 
ruminate" is like Adelard's seventh in the same work.^ 

Roger Bacon, whose estimates of his contemporaries 
have sometimes been accepted at too high a value, wrote of 
Neckam some fifty years after Alexander's death: "This 
Alexander wrote true and useful books on many subjects, 
but he cannot with justice be named as an authority." ' 
Bacon himself, however, seems on at least one occasion to 
have used Neckam as an authority without naming him.'* 
On the other hand, another Englishman of note in science, 
Alfred of Sarchel or Sareshel, dedicated his book on The 
Movement of the Heart {De niotu cordis) to Neckam. 

Whatever Neckam's own scientific attainments may 
have been, there can be no doubt that he had a high regard 
for scientia and that he was not wanting in sympathetic ap- 
preciation of the scientific spirit. This fact shines out in the 
pages of the De naturis reruni amid its moral lessons and 
spiritual illustrations, its erroneous etymologies and popu- 
lar anecdotes. "Science is acquired," he says in one pas- 
sage, "at great expense, by frequent vigils, by great expen- 
diture of time, by sedulous diligence of labor, by vehement 
application of mind." ^ But its acquisition abundantly jus- 
tifies itself even in practical life and destructive war. "What 
craftiness of the foe is there that does not yield to the pre- 
cise knowledge of those who have tracked down the elusive 

II, 129, *As I shall point out when I 

come to Roger Bacon, there are 

*I, 39; II, 11; I, 49; 
140, 157; II, 157 and 161. 

M, 19; I, 16; II, 57; 11. 162. 

* Fr. Rogeri Bacon, Opera Ine- 
dita, ed. Brewer, p. 457 in RS, 
vol. 15. 

one or two rather striking resem- 
blances between his interests and 
method and those of Neckam. 
'11, 155. 


subtleties of things hidden in the very bosom of nature?" ^ 
He often cites these experts in natural science, whom he al- 
ways seems to regard with respect as authorities.^ Not that 
he believes that they have solved all problems. Some things 
forsooth are so hidden that it seems as if Nature is saying, 
"This is my secret, this is my secret !" ^ On the other hand, 
there are many natural phenomena too familiar through 
daily use and experience to need mention in books, since even 
those who do not read are acquainted with them. Neckam 
consequently will follow a middle course in selecting the 
contents of his volume. 

Although a Christian clergyman, Neckam seems to ex- Science 
perience little difficulty in adopting the scientific theories g"^j^^ ^ 
of Aristotle; or, if there are Aristotelian doctrines known 
to him with which he disagrees, he usually quietly disre- 
gards them.^ But he does raise the question several times 
of the correctness of Biblical statements concerning nature. 
He explains that Adam's body was composed of all four 
elements and not made merely from earth, as the account 
of creation in the Book of Genesis might seem to imply.^ 
And of the scriptural assertion that "God made two great 
lights" he says, "The historical narrative follows the judg- 
ment of the eye and the popular notion," but of course the 
moon is not one of the largest planets.® In a third chapter 
entitled, "That water is not lower than earth," he notes that 
the statement of the prophet that "God founded the earth 
upon the waters" does not agree with Alfraganus' dictum 
that there is one sphere of earth and waters.'^ Wright quite 
unreasonably interprets this chapter as showing "to what a 
degree science had become the slave of scriptural phrase- 
ology." ^ What it really shows is just the contrary, for even 
the Biblical expositors, Neckam tells us, say that the passage 

^11, 174- '11, 152. 

*For instance, II, 148. "Qui *!, 13. "Sed visus iudicium et 

autem in naturis rerum instruct! vulgarem opinionem sequitur his- 
sunt." torialis narratio." 

• II, 99. ' n, 49. 

* I, 16, a citation from Aristotle * Preface, p. xxx. 
gives him a little trouble. 


is to be taken in the sense tiiat one speaks of Paris as located 
on the Seine. Neckam then makes a suggestion of his own, 
that what is really above the waters is the terrestrial para- 
dise, since it is even beyond the sphere of the moon, and 
Enoch, translated thither, suffered no inconvenience what- 
ever from the waters of the deluge. Moreover, the terres- 
trial paradise symbolizes the church which is founded on 
the waters of baptism. All of which is of course far-fetched 
and fanciful, but in no way can be said to make science 
"the slave of scriptural phraseology." On the contrary it 
makes scriptural phraseology the slave of mysticism, while 
it subjects Enoch's translation to somewhat material limita- 
tions. Possibly there may be used here some of the apocry- 
phal books current under Enoch's name.^ On one occasion 
Neckam does accept a statement of the Bible which seems in- 
consistent with the views of philosophers concerning the four 
elements. This is the assertion that after the day of judg- 
ment there will be neither fire nor water but only air and 
earth will be left. To an imaginary philosopher who seems 
unwilling to accept this assertion Neckam says, "If you don't 
believe me, at least believe Peter, the chief of the apostles, 
who says the same in his canonical epistle. Says what? 
Says that fire and water will not exist after the judgment 
day." ^ But if Neckam prefers to believe his Bible as to 
what will occur in the world of nature after the day of 
judgment, he prefers also, as we have seen, to follow natural 
science in regard to present natural phenomena. Moreover, 
in neither the canonical nor apocr}'phal books can I find any 
such statement in the Epistles of Peter as Neckam here 
credits him with, unless after the elements have melted with 
fervent heat, the new heavens and a new earth are to be 
interpreted as made respectively of air and earth ! 
His own We may agree at least with Wright that Neckam's scien- 

of science^ tific attainments are considerable for his time. In physics 
and astronomy he shows himself fairly well versed. He 

*Sce I Htrmas. iii, 42. "Hear life is and shall be saved by 
therefore why the tower is built water. . . ." 
upon the water : because your ' I, 16. 


knows something of vacuums and syphoning ; he argues that 
water tends naturally to take a spherical shape ; ^ he twice 
points out that the walls of buildings should not be ex- 
actly parallel, since they should ultimately meet, if pro- 
longed far enough, at the center of the earth ; ^ and he as- 
serts that the so-called "antipodes" are no more under our 
feet than we are under theirs.^ He gives us what is per- 
haps our earliest information of some medieval inventions, 
such as the mariner's compass and mirrors of glass."* But 
he does not attempt to explain differences in the images in 
convex and" concave mirrors.^ He is modest in regard to 
his biological attainments, saying that he "is not ashamed 
to. confess" that there are species of which he does not even 
know the names, to say nothing of their natures.^ But when 
Wright calls Neckam's account of animals "a mere compila- 
tion" and says that "much of it is taken from the old writers, 
such as Solinus, Isidore, and Cassiodorus," ''' he is basing 
his conclusion simply on the fact that marginal notes in the 
medieval manuscripts themselves ascribe a number of pas- 
sages to these authors. This ascription is correct. But there 
are many passages on animals where the manuscripts name 
no authorities, and with one exception — the chapter on the 
hyena from Solinus — Wright fails to name any source from 
which Neckam has borrowed these other passages. It is 
easy to show that Neckam is a compiler when he himself 
or others have stated his authorities but it is equally fair to 
suppose that he is honest and original when he cites no 
authorities or has not been detected in borrowing. And he 
sometimes criticizes or discriminates between the earlier 
writers. After quoting Bernard Silvester's statement that 
the beaver castrates itself to escape its hunters, he adds, "But 

* II, 14. Vitruvius, VIII, v. S, ventions no instances are given 
ascribes this doctrine to Archi- of allusions to glass mirrors 
medes. earlier than the middle of the 

'II, 172; and p. 109 of De uten- thirteenth century. 
silibus. "11, 154. 

'11,49. '11,99. 

* Wright points out (p. 1, note) ' P. xxxix. 
that in Beckman's History of In- 



stories of 

those who are more reliably informed as to the natures of 
things assert that Bernard has followed the ridiculous pop- 
ular notion and not reached the true fact." ^ Neckam also 
questions the belief that a lynx has such keen sight that it 
can see through nine walls. This is supposed to have been 
demonstrated experimentally by observing a lynx with nine 
walls between it and a person carrying some raw meat. The 
lynx will move along its side of the walls whenever the meat 
is moved on the other side and will stop opposite the spot 
where the person carrying the meat stops. Neckam does not 
question the accuracy of this absurd experiment, but re- 
marks that some natural scientists attribute it rather to the 
animal's sense of smell than to its power of vision.^ 

But as a rule Neckam's treatment of animals is far 
more credulous than sceptical. He believes that the bar- 
nacle bird is generated from fir-wood which has been soaked 
in the salt water for a long time,^ and that the wren, after 
it has been killed and is being roasted, turns itself on the 
spit.^ He tells a number of delightful but incredible stories 
in which animals display remarkable sagacity and manifest 
emotions and motives similar to those of human beings. 
Some of these tales concern particular pets or wild beasts; 
others are of the habits of a species. The hawk, for ex- 
ample, keeps warm on wintry nights by seizing some other 
bird in its claws and holding it tight against its own body; 
but when day returns it gratefully releases this bird and sat- 
isfies its morning appetite upon some other victim.^ Neckam 
also shares the common belief that animals were ac- 
quainted with the medicinal virtues of herbs. When the 
weasel is wounded by a venomous animal, it hastens to seek 
salubrious plants. For "educated by nature, it knows the 
virtues of herbs, although it has neither studied medicine at 
Salerno nor been drilled in the schools at Montpellier." * 

»II, 140. 
MI, 138. 

• I, 48. 

* I, 78. 
•I, 25. 
•II, 123. 

This reminds one of 

the account of the tunny fish by 
Plutarch which we noted in our 
chapter on Plutarch, where he 
says that the tunny fish needs no 
astrological canons and is familiar 
with arithmetic ; "Yes, by Zeus, 




Neckam's chapter on the barnyard cock perhaps will illus- 
trate the divergences between medieval and modern science 
as well as any other. As a rooster approaches old age, he 
sometimes lays an egg upon which a toad sits, and from 
which is hatched the basilisk. How is it that the cock "dis- 
tinguishes the hours by his song" ? From great heat ebul- 
lition of the humors within the said bird arises, it produces 
saltiness, the saltiness causes itching, from the itching comes 
tickling, from the tickling comes delectation, and delectation 
excites one to song. Now nature sets certain periods to the 
movements of humors and therefore the cock crows at 
certam hours. But why have roosters crests and hens not? 
This is because of their very moist brains and the presence 
near the top of their heads of some bones which are not 
firmly joined. So the gross humor arising from the hu- 
midity escapes through the openings and produces the crest.^ 

Neckam harbored the notion, which we met long before 
in the pagan Philostratus, in the Hebraic Enoch litera- 
ture, in the Christian Pseudo-Clementines and Basil's Hex- 
aemeron, and more recently in the writings of Hildegard, 
that man's sin has its physical effects upon nature. To 
Adam's fall he attributes not only the spots on the moon 
but the wildness of most animals, and the existence of in- 
sects to plague, and venomous animals to poison, and diseases 
to injure mankind,^ But for the fall of man, moreover, 
all living creatures would be subsisting upon a vege- 
tarian diet. 

Magic is hardly mentioned in the De naturis rerum. In 
a passage, however, telling how Aristotle ordered some of 
his subtlest works to be buried with him, Neckam adds that 
he so guarded the neighborhood of his sepulcher "by some 
mysterious force of nature or power of art, not to say feat 
of the magic art, that no one in those days could enter it." ^ 

A chapter 
on the 

Effect of 
sin upon 

on occult 

and with optics, too." It is un- 
likely that Neckam was acquainted 
with Plutarch's Essays. 

* I, 75 ; the reasoning is some- 
what similar to Adelard of Bath's 

explanation why his nephew wept 
for joy. 

'II, 156. 

'II, 189. 




belief in 

But Neckam is a believer in occult virtues and to a certain 
extent in astrology. He would also seem to believe in the 
force of incantations from his assertion that "in words and 
herbs and stones diligent investigators of nature have dis- 
covered great virtue. Most certain experience, moreover, 
makes our statement trustworthy." ^ He mentions a much 
smaller number of stones than Marbod, but ascribes the 
same occult virtues to those which he does name. In the 
preface to his first book he says that some gems have greater 
virtue when set in silver than when set in gold. A tooth 
separated from the jaw of a wild boar remains sharp only 
as long as the animal remains alive, an interesting bit of 
sympathetic magic.^ The occult property of taming wild 
bulls possessed by the fig-tree which we have already seen 
noted by various authors is also remarked by Neckam.^ 
A moonbeam shining through a narrow aperture in the wall 
of a stable fell directly on a sore on a horse's back and caused 
the death of a groom standing nearby. Out-of-doors the 
efiFect would not have been fatal, since the force of the 
moon's rays would not have been so concentrated upon one 
spot and the humidity would have had a better chance to 
diffuse through space. ^ 

After telling of the fatal glances of the basilisk and wolf, 
Neckam says that fascination is explained as due to evil rays 
from someone who looks at you. He adds that nurses lick 
the face of a child who has been fascinated."'^ 

Neckam will not believe that the seven planets are ani- 
mals.® He does believe, however, that they not merely adorn 
the heavens but exert upon inferiors those effects which God 
has assigned to them.'^ Each planet rules in turn three hours 
of the day. As there are twenty-four hours in all, the last 
three hours of each day are governed by the same planet 
which ruled the first three. Hence the names of the days 

' 11. 85. 
MI, 139. 
MI, 80. 

*II, 153; this item is also found 
1 the De Natura rerum of 

Thomas of Cantimprc. 
"II. 153- 
M, 7. 


in the planetary week, Sunday being the day when the sun 
governs the first three and last three hours, Monday the day 
when the moon controls the opening and closing hours of 
day, and so on.^ But the stars do not impose necessity upon 
the human will which remains free. Nevertheless the planet 
Mars, for instance, bestows the gift of counsel; and science 
is associated with the planet Venus which is hot and moist, 
as are persons of sanguine temperament in whom science is 
wont to flourish. Neckam also associates each of the seven 
planets which illuminate the universe with one of the seven 
liberal arts which shed light on all knowledge.^ He alludes 
to the great year of which the philosophers tell, when after 
36,000 years the stars complete their courses,^ and to the 
music of the spheres when, to secure the perfect consonance 
of an octave, the eighth sphere of the fixed stars completes 
the harmony of the seven planets. But he fears that some- 
one may think he is raving when he speaks with the philoso- 
phers of this harmony of the eight spheres.* 

At Jesus College, Oxford, in a manuscript of the early Neckam's 
thirteenth century, which is exclusively devoted to religious ^ ^ 
writings by Neckam,^ there occurs at the close an address 
of the author to his work, which is in the same hand as the 
rest of the manuscript, which we may therefore not unrea- 
sonably suppose to have been Neckam's own writing. As 
he is spoken of in the manuscript as abbot of Cirencester, 
perhaps these are also actually the last words he wrote. We 
may therefore appropriately terminate our account of 
Neckam by quoting them. 

"Perchance, O book, you will survive Alexander, and 
worms will eat me before the book-worm gnaws you; for my 
body is due the worms and book-worms will demolish you. 
You are the mirror of my soul, the interpreter of my medi- 
tations, the surest index of my meaning, the faithful mes- 

* I, 10. See p. 670 for Bacon's gloss on the psalter, a commen- 
different account of this point. tary on the proverbs of Solomon, 

* II, 173. two sermons, and, three books on 
*I, 6. "Who can find a virtuous woman?" 
*I, 15- . by Bede. 

' Jesus 94. The MS includes a 


senger of my mind's emotions, the sweet comforter of my 
grief, the true witness of my conscience. To you as faithful 
depositary I have confided my heart's secrets; you restore 
faithfully to me those things which I have committed to 
your trust ; in you I read myself. You will come, you will 
come into the hands of some pious reader who will deign 
to pour forth prayers for me. Then indeed, little book, you 
will profit your master; then you will recompense your 
Alexander by a most grateful interchange. There will come, 
nor do I begrudge my labor, the devotion of a pious reader, 
who will now let you repose in his lap, now move you to his 
breast, sometimes place you as a sweet pillow beneath his 
head, sometimes gently closing you with glad hands, he will 
fervently pray for me to Lord Jesus Christ, who with Fa- 
ther and Holy Spirit lives and reigns God through infinite 
cycles of ages. Amen." 



His life — His works in the west — His works nn Latin — Attitude to 
science and religion — Attitude to magic — Towards empiricism — Abuse 
of divine names — Occult virtue and empirical remedies in his work on 
poisons — Attitude to astrology — Divination and prophecy — Marvels in 
the Aphorisms. 

In this chapter we turn to consider perhaps the leading His life, 
representative of Hebrew learning in the middle ages, Moses 
Maimonides ^ or Musa ibn Maimum or Moses ben Maimon, 
as he is variously briefly styled, not to entangle ourselves in 
the intricacies of his full Arabic name. In the Latin ver- 
sions of his works he is spoken of as Rabbi Moyses of 
Cordova ^ or is made to call himself an Israelite of Cordova,^ 

^ In English, besides the article 
on Maimonides in the Jewish En- 
cyclopedia, there is a rather good 
essay by Rabbi Gottheil in War- 
ner's Library of the World's Best 
Literature. Recent works in 
French and German are : L. G. 
Levy, Maintonide, 191 1; Moses 
ben Maimon, sein Leben, seine 
Werke, und sein EinAuss, zur 
Erinnerung an den siebenhundert- 
sten Todestag des Maimonides, 
herausg. v. d. Gesell. s. Forderung 
d. Wiss. d. Judenthums durch W. 
Bacher, M. Brann, D. Simonsen, 
I. Guttmann, 2 vols., containing 
twenty essays by various contribu- 
tors, Leipzig, 1908 and 1914. L. 
Finkelscherer, Mose Maimunis 
Stellung zum Aberglauben und 
zur Mystik, Breslau, 1894; a 
Jena doctoral dissertation, full of 
somewhat juvenile generalizations, 
and which fails to appraise 
Maimonides' attitude towards 
magic, astrology, and superstition 
comparatively. See also D. Joel, 
Der Aberglaube und die Stellung 

des Judenthums zu demselben, 
1881-1883. Other older works on 
Maimonides are listed in the bib- 
liography in the Jewish Encyclo- 
pedia. The Guide of the Per- 
plexed (Moreh Nebukim) was 
translated by M. Friedlander, 
second edition, 1904, and I have 
also used the Latin translation of 
1629. The Yad-Hachazakah was 
published in 1863 ; The Book of 
Precepts, in 1849; the Co^nmen- 
tary on the Mishnah, in 1655. 
Other works will be listed in the 
four following foot-notes. 

' "Rabymoyses Cordubensis," 
fols. ir and 13V of the Latin 
translation of his work on Poi- 
sons by Ermengard Blasius of 
Montpellier in an Oxford MS, 
Corpus Christi College 125. 

* "Moysi israhelitici," on the 
first page of a Latin translation 
printed in 1477 (?) — numbered 
IA.27063 in the British Museum — 
from his "Yad Hachazakah," 
under the title, "De regimine sani- 
tatis omnium hominum sub bre- 




His works 
in the 

but it seems to have been not much more than the scene of 
his birth and childhood, since the invasion of the fanatical 
Almohades in 1148 forced his father to flee with his family 
first from place to place in Spain, in 1160 to Fez, later to 
Syria and Egypt. From about 1165 on Maimonides seems 
to have lived most of the time at Cairo and there to have 
done most of his work. After the deaths of his father and 
brother forced him to earn a livelihood by practicing medi- 
cine, he became physician to the vizier of Saladin and head 
of the Jewish community in Cairo. 

Whether or not he returned to Spain before his death in 
1204, he was certainly known to the western world of 
learning. In 1194 he wrote a letter on the subject of as- 
trology in response to inquiries which he had received from 
Jews of Marseilles.^ In it he tells them that his Repetition 
of the Law (Iteratio legis) has already spread through the 
island of Sicily. But he apparently was still in Cairo, where 
in July, 1 1 98, he wrote his treatise on Poisons for the Cadi 
Fadhil.^ After his death, however, it was between the con- 
servative and liberal parties among the Jews of France and 
Spain that a struggle ensued over the orthodoxy of his 
works, which was finally settled, we are told, by reference 
in 1234 to the Christian authorities, who ordered his books 
to be burned. His Guide for the Perplexed, first published 
in Egypt in Arabic in 1190, had been translated into Hebrew 
at Lunel in southern France before the close of the twelfth 
century, and then again by a Spanish poet.^ But the rabbis 
of northern France opposed the introduction of Maimonides' 
works there and, when they were anathematized for it by 
those of the south, are said to have reported the writings 

viloquio compilatus." In the 
Latin version of the Aphorisms 
printed in 1489 (numbered 
I A. 28878 in the British Museum), 
"ait Moj^ses filius servuH dei 
israeliticus cordubensis," and 
"Incipiunt aphorismi excellen- 
tissimi Raby Moyses secundum 
doctrinam GaUeni medicorum 

' Moses ben Maimon, De as- 
trologia . . . epistola, 1555, He- 
brew text and Latin translation. 

* See the preface as given in the 
French translation by L M. Rab- 
binowicz, Paris, 1865. There is a 
German translation by M. Stein- 
schneider, Gifte und Ihre Heil- 
ungen, Berlin, 1873. 

'Levy (1911), 237. 


to the Inquisition. The Maimonist party then accused them 
of delation and several of them were punished by having 
their tongues cut out.^ 

If certain Christian authorities really did thus burn the His works 
books of Maimonides, their action was unavailing to check 
the spread of his writings even in Christian lands, and cer- 
tainly was not characteristic of the attitude of Christian 
Latin learning in general. The Guide of the Perplexed 
had already been translated into Latin before 1234," and 
we find Moses of Cordova cited by such staunch churchmen 
as Alexander of Hales, Albertus Magnus,^ Thomas Aquinas, 
and Vincent of Beauvais. It was for Pope Clement V him- 
self that Ermengard Blasius of Montpellier translated at 
Barcelona Maimonides' work on Poisons at the beginning of 
the fourteenth century from Arabic into Latin. ^ 

It was not surprising that Albert and Aquinas should Attitude 

to science 
cite Maimonides, for he did for Jewish thought what and 

they attempted for Christian, namely, the reconciliation religion, 
of Aristotle and the Bible, philosophy and written reve- 
lation. If he anteceded them in this and perhaps to some 
extent showed them the way, we must remember that 
William of Conches, who was earlier than he, had already 
faced this difficulty of the relations between science and 
religion, the scriptures and the writings of the philosophers, 
although he of course did not know all the books of Aris- 
totle. As for Maimonides, continuing the allegorical 

^ Levy (1911), 233, who cites which the Jewish opponents of 

"pour le detail" Kobeg III ; Maimonides' teaching induced the 

'Henda ghenonza, 18, Konigsberg, church to consign to the flames. 

1856; Taam zeqanim, Frankfurt, The Latin translation in CUL 

1854. 171 1 (Qi. L 19), fols. 1-183, is 

^ Levy (1911), 261, "Le Guide ascribed in the catalogue to Au- 

avait diJ etre traduit en latin au gustinus Justinianus, Nebiensium 

debut du XII le siecle, attendu Episcopus, and is said to have 

que, des ce moment, on releve des been printed in Paris, 1520. 

traces de son influence dans la ' M. Joel, Verhdltnis Albert des 

scolastique. . . . Moise de Salerno Grossen cu Moses Maimonides, 

declare qu'il a lu le Guide en latin 1863. A. Rohner, Das Schbp- 

avec Nicolo Paglia di Giovenazzo, fungsproblem bei Moses Maimo- 

qui fonda en 1224 un convent nides, Albertus Magnus, und 

dominicain a Trani." Thomas von Aquin. 1913. 

According to Gottheil, it was * See his preface in Corpus 

this Latin translation of the Guide Christi 125, fol. ir. 


method of Philo, he tried to discover in the Old Testament 
and Talmud all the Aristotelian philosophy, and was con- 
vinced that the prophets of old had received further revela- 
tions of a philosophical character, which had been trans- 
mitted orally for a time but then lost during the periods 
of Jewish wandering and persecution.^ He defended Moses 
from the slurs of Galen who had charged the lawgiver with 
an unscientific attitude.^ He denied the eternity of matter^ 
and of the heavens,* but held that the celestial bodies were 
living animated beings and that the heavenly spheres were 
conscious and free.^ He spoke of belief in demons as "idle 
and fallacious," holding that evil is mere privation and 
that the personal Devil of Scripture was an allegory for this, 
while the possession by demons was merely the disease of 
melancholy.® Yet he believed that God does nothing with- 
out the mediation of an angel and that belief in the exist- 
ence of angels is only second in importance to a belief in 
God.'^ Thus the rationalism and scepticism which modern 
Jewish admirers have ascribed to Maimonides had their 
decided limitations. 
Attitude An interesting discussion of magic occurs in the Guide 

'° . for the Perplexed ^ in connection with the precepts of the 

Mosaic law against idolatry. Maimonides holds that ma- 
gicians and diviners are closely akin to idolaters, and this 
part of his discussion is very similar to patristic treatments 
which we have already encountered. He goes on, however, 
to say that astrology and magic were especially charac- 
teristic of the Chaldeans, Egyptians, and Canaanites, and 
to distinguish three varieties of magic : one employing the 
properties of plants, animals and metals; a second deter- 
mining the times when these works should be performed; 

^Jewish Encyclopedia, p. 74. 'JE, p. 77. 

' Aphorismi (1489), partic. 25. 'Levy (1911), p. 86. 

"Et ostendam hac demonstratione 'Levy (1911), p. 84. 

quod insipientia quam attribuit ° Finkelscherer (1894), PP- 40- 

Moysi erat attribuenda ipsi 51. 
Galieno vere et ponam dictum ' Levy, pp. 89-90. 

meum inter eos sicut inter duos ^ More Nevochim (1629), III, 

sapientes unum compilatiorem 37. 
alio. . . ." 




a third employing gesticulations, actions, and cries of the 
human operator himself. Thus he recognizes the three ele- 
ments of materials, times, and rites in magic. He sees that 
they may be combined in one operation, as when an herb is 
plucked when the moon is in a specified degree. He notes 
that magic is largely performed by women, towards whom 
men are more merciful than towards their own sex. He 
also notes that magicians claim to do good or at least to 
ward off evils such as snakes and wild beasts or the blight 
from plants. But the lawgiver forbade "all those practices 
which contrary to natural science are said to produce utility 
by special and occult virtues and properties, . . . such for- 
sooth as proceed not from a natural cause but a magical 
operation and which rely upon the constellations to such 
a degree as to involve worship and veneration of them." ^ 

But then Maimonides goes on to say that "everything Towards 
is licit in which any natural cause appears." And he goes 
farther than that. He says that the reader need not feel 
uneasy because the rabbis have allowed the use in suspen- 
sions of a nail from the yoke worn by criminals or the 
tooth of a fox. "For in those times they placed faith in 
these things because they were confirmed by experience 
and served in the place of medicine." Similarly in 
Maimonides' own day Galen's remedy of the suspension of 
a peony from the patient's neck was employed in cases of 
epilepsy, dog's dung was used against pustules and sore 
throat, and so forth. "For whatever is proved by experi- 
ence to be true, although no natural cause may be apparent, 
its use is permitted, because it acts as a medicine." Thus he 
condemns magic, but approves of empirical medicine as well 
as of natural science, and evidently does not regard the em- 
ployment of occult virtues as necessarily magical and for- 


* ". . . interdixit omnia ea quae 
contra speculationem naturalem 
specialibus et occultis viribus ac 
proprietatibus utilitatem afferre 
asserunt . . . talia videlicet quae 
non ex ratione natural! sed ex 

opere magico sequuntur et stella- 
rum dispositionibus ac rationibus 
innituntur, unde necessario ad 
colendas et venerandas illas de- 



Abuse of 



virtue and 
in his 
work on 

In another passage of the Guide Maimonides cautions, 
however, against the abuse of divine names, and, while he 
holds to the Tetragrammaton "which is written but is not 
pronounced as it is spelled," deplores the many inventions 
of meaningless and inefficacious names which superstitious 
and insane men have too often imposed upon the credulity 
of good men as possessed of peculiar sanctity and purity 
and having the virtue of working miracles. He therefore 
warns his readers against such "amulets or experimental 
charts." ^ 

Maimonides again approves of empirical remedies and 
of occult virtues in his treatise on poisons. He holds that 
counter-poisons do not act by any physical or chemical 
quality but by their entire substance or by a special prop- 
erty.^ Lemon pips, peeled and applied in a compress; a 
powdered emerald, which should be a beautiful green, quite 
transparent, and of good water; and the animal bezoar, 
which comes from the eyes or gall bladder of deer; these are 
antidotes whose efficacy is proved by incontestible experi- 
mentation. When terra sigillata cannot be had, a powdered 
emerald of the sort just described may be substituted for 
it as an ingredient in the grand theriac.^ Maimonides be- 
lieves that this last named remedy is the outcome of experi- 
ments with vipers carried on through the course of centuries 
by ancient philosophers and physicians.'* As for the stone 
hezoar, the writings of the moderns are full of marvelous 
tales concerning it, but Galen does not mention it, and 
Maimonides has tried all the varieties which he could ob- 
tain against scorpion bites without the least success. But 
experience confirms the virtue of the hezoar of animal 
origin, as has been stated. Maimonides' observations con- 
cerning cures for the bites of mad dogs are interesting. He 
states that at first the bite of a mad dog does not feel any 
different from that of a dog who is not mad. He also 
warns his readers not to trust to books to distinguish between 
^ More Ncvochim (1629), I, 61- 26. 


'French translation (1865), p. 

^Ibid., pp. 27-28, 53-4. 
*Ibid., p. 38. 




the two, but unless they are sure that the dog was not mad, 
to keep on the safe side by taking the remedies against the 
bite of a mad dog.^ He also states that all of the various 
remedies listed for the cure of the bite of a mad dog must 
be employed before hydrophobia manifests itself, "for after 
the appearance of that symptom, I have never seen a patient 
survive." ^ In speaking of sucking the venom from a 
wound, Maimonides affirms that it is better to have this 
done by a fasting person, since the spittle of such a person 
is itself hostile to poisons.^ 

That Maimonides was well acquainted with the art of Attitude 
astrology may be inferred from his assertion that he has trology. 
read every book in Arabic on the subject.'* Maimonides 
not only believed that the stars were living, animated beings 
and that there were as many pure intelligences as there were 
spheres,^ but he states twice in the Guide for the Perplexed '^ 
that all philosophers agree that this inferior world of 
generation and corruption is ruled by the virtues and influ- 
ences of the celestial spheres. While their influence is 
diffused through all things, each star or planet also has 
particular species especially under its influence. According 
to Levy '^ he further held not only that the movement of 
the celestial sphere starts every motion in the universe, but 
that every soul has its origin in the soul of the celestial 
sphere. In his letter on astrology to the Jews of Marseilles 
he repeats that all the philosophers have held, and that He- 
brew masters of the past have agreed with them, that what- 
ever is in this inferior world the blessed God has brought 
about by that virtue which arises from the spheres and 
stars. As God performs signs and miracles by angels, so 
natural processes and operations by the spheres and stars 
which are animated and endowed with knowledge and 
science. All this is true and in no way derogates from the 
Jewish faith. But Maimonides regards as folly and not 

* Poisons (1865), p. 43. 

* Ibid., p. 40. 

* Ibid., p. 21. 

' So he states at the beginning 

of his De astrologia (i5S5)- 
•Levy (191 1), PP- 84-5. 
*II, 5 and ID. 
'Levy (191 1 ), p. 87. 






wisdom the doctrine found in Arabic works of astrology that 
a man's nativity compels everything to happen to him just 
as it does and in no otherwise. He regards this doctrine 
as derived from the Chaldeans, Egyptians, and Canaanites 
and makes the rather rash assertion that no Greek philoso- 
pher ever wrote a book of this sort. This doctrine would 
make no distinction between a man whom a lion meets and 
tears limb from limb and the mouse which a cat plays with. 
It would make men warring for kingdoms no different from 
dogs fighting over a carcass. These illustrations may 
seem to the reader rather favorable to the doctrine which 
Maimonides is endeavoring to combat, but he upholds 
human free will and man's responsibility for his actions, 
which he declares are fundamental tenets of the Jewish 
law. For some reason which is not clear to me he identifies 
the doctrine of nativities and the control of human destiny 
by the constellations with the rule of blind chance and the 
happening of everything fortuitously, which would seem 
quite a different matter and third alternative.^ Maimonides 
holds that God planned all human affairs beforehand, and 
that just as He planned the course of nature so as to allow 
for the occurrence of miracles, so He planned human affairs 
in such a way that men could be held responsible and 
punished for their sins. Maimonides regards the rule of 
chance and the doctrine of nativities as incompatible with 

Yet Maimonides believed in a human faculty of natural 
divination, stating that the ability to conjecture and divine 
is found in all men to some degree, and that in some imagi- 
nation and divination are so strong and sure that they cor- 
rectly forecast all future events or the greater part of them.^ 
The difference between true prophets and the diviners and 
observers of times "is that the observers of times, diviners, 

sphaeras et stellas fieri etiam 
dicunt quicquid mortalibus con- 
tingit id casu temere et fortuito 
fieri et nullam de supernis causam 
habere, nee ea in re quicquam." 
* More Nevochitn ^^1629), II, 38. 

*And the following passage 
seems quite confused and illogi- 
cal ; but perhaps the fault is with 
the Latin translator : "Ad haec 
omnes illae tres sectae philoso- 
phorum qui asseverant omnia per 


and such men, some of their words may be fulfilled and 
some of them may not be fulfilled." ^ 

In his Aphorisms which are drawn largely from the Marvels 
works of Galen Maimonides repeats many marvelous stories, ^2phorisn 
instances of belief in occult virtue, and medical methods 
bordering upon the practice of magic.- Most of these have 
already been mentioned in our chapters upon Galen and 
need not be reiterated here. It is perhaps worth noting that 
Maimonides displays some critical sense as to the authen- 
ticity of works ascribed to Galen. He does not accept as 
his a treatise forbidding the burial of a man until twenty- 
four hours after his supposed death, although the patriarch 
who translated it from Greek into Arabic regarded it as 
Galen's. Maimonides suggests that it may be by some other 
Galen than the great physician "whose books are well 
known." Maimonides also notes that in the work of Hip- 
pocrates on female ailments which Galen commented upon 
and Hunain translated there have been added many state- 
ments of a marvelous character by some third hand. 

^ Yad-Hachazakah, (1863), I, i, a miraculis repertis in libris 

X, pp. 63-4. medicorum." It is rather to 

'These occur in the 24th section Maimonides' credit that he segre- 

which is devoted to medical mar- gated these marvels in a separate 

vels : "Incipit particula xxiiii chapter, 
continens aphorismos dependentes 



Prince Khalid ibn Jazid and The Book of Morienus — Robert of 
Chester's preface — The story of Morienus and Calid — The secret of 
the philosopher's stone — Later medieval works of alchemy ascribed to 
Hermes — Medieval citations of Hermes otherwise than as an alchemist 
— Astrological treatises — Of the Six Principles of Things — Liber lune — 
Images of the seven planets — Book of Venus of Toz Graecus — Further 
mentions of Toz Graecus — Toz the same as Thoth or Trismegistus — 
Magic experiments. 

Prince Al-Mas'udi, who lived from about 885 to 956 A. D., has 

Klialid . . . . 1 1 r 1 

ibn Jazid preserved a single recipe for making gold from the 
^id The alchemical poem, The Paradise of Wisdom, originally con- 
Morienus. sisting of some 2315 verses and written by the Ommiad 
prince, Khalid ibn Jazid (635-704 A. D.) of Alexandria. 
Other Arabic, writers of the ninth and tenth centuries repre- 
sent this prince as interested in natural science and medi- 
cine, alchemy and astrology, and as the first to promote 
translations from the Greek and Coptic. Thus the alchemistic 
Book of Crates is said to have been translated either by 
him or under his direction. The Fihrist further states that 
Khalid was instructed in alchemy by one Morienes, who 
was himself a disciple of Adfar.^ There is still extant, but 
only in Latin translation, what purports to be the book of 
this same Morienes, or Morienus as he is called in Latin, 
addressed to this same Khalid. The book cites or invents 
various Greek alchemists but claims the Thrice-Great 
Hermes as its original author. It is of this work that we 
shall now treat as the first of a number of medieval Hermetic 

* For detailed references for this and the preceding statements see 
Lippmann (1919), PP- 357-9- 





One of the earliest treatises of alchemy translated from Robert of 
Arabic into Latin would appear to be this which Morienus preface/ 
Romanus, a hermit of Jerusalem, edited for "Calid, king of 
the Egyptians," and which Robert of Chester turned into 
Latin ^ on the eleventh day of February in the year 1182 
of the Spanish era or 1144 A. D. Of Robert's other trans- 
lations we have spoken elsewhere.^ He opens his preface 
to the present treatise with an account of three Hermeses 
— Enoch, Noah, and the king, philosopher, and prophet who 
reigned in Egypt after the flood and was called Hermes 
Triplex, This account is very similar to one which we 
shall presently find prefixed to an astrological treatise by- 
Hermes Trismegistus. It was this Hermes, Robert con- 
tinues, who rediscovered and edited all the arts and sciences 
after the deluge, and who first found and published the pres- 
ent work, which is a book divine and most replete with 
divinity, and which is entitled, The Book of the Composi- 
tion of Alchemy. "And since," says Robert, "what alchemy 
is and what is its composition, your Latin world does not 
yet know truly,^ I will elucidate the same in the present 
treatise." Alchemy is that substance which joins the more 
precious bodies which are compounded from one original 
matter and by this same natural union converts them to 
the higher type. In other words, it is the philosopher's 

^ I have used the edition of 
Paris, 1564, Liber de compositione 
alchemiae quern edidit Morienus 
Romanus Calid Regi Aegyptiorum 
Quern Robertus Castreiisis de 
Arabico in Latinutn transtulit. A 
number of MSS of the work will 
be found listed in the index of 
Black's Catalogue of the Ashmo- 
lean MSS, and elsewhere, as in 
Sloane 3697 and Digby 162, 13th 
century, fols. 2iv and 23r. Other 
editions are Basel, 1559; Basel, 
1503, in Artis Auriferae qiiam 
Chemiam vacant, II, 1-54; and 
Geneva, 1702. in J. J. Manget, 
Bibliotheca Chemica Curiosa, I, 

^ See above, chapter 38. p. 8^ 
^Berthelot (1893) 1, 234, toe.k 

the date to be 1182 A. D. and so, 
on the basis of this remark, placed 
the introduction of Arabic al- 
chemy into Latin learning 38 
years too late. It is rather amus- 
ing that Lippmann, who elsewhere 
avails himself of petty pretexts 
to belittle the work of Berthelot, 
should have overlooked this error. 
He still (1919), pp. 358 and 482, 
states the date as 1182 A. D., al- 
though he is puzzled how to rec- 
oncile it with that of 1143 A. D. 
for Robertus Castrensis or Robert 
de Retines. He also is at a loss 
as to the identity of this Robert 
or the meaning of "Castrensis," 
and has no knowledge of the pub- 
lications of Karpinski (1915) and 
Haskins, EHR (J915). 


stone by which metals may be transmuted. Although Rob- 
ert is a relatively young man and his Latinity perhaps not 
of the best, he essays the task of translating this so great 
and important a work and reveals his own name in the 
preface lest some other person steal the fruits of his labor 
and the praise which is his due. Lippmann dismisses the 
translation rather testily as "surpassed by no later work for 
emptiness, confusion, and sheer drivel,"*^ but we shall at- 
tempt some further description. 
The Following Robert's preface comes an account, in the 

Momnus usual style of apocryphal and occult works, told partly in 
andCalid. the first person by Morienus and partly of him in the third 
person by someone else. Long after Christ's passion an 
Ad far of Alexandria found the book of Hermes, mastered 
it after long study, and himself gave forth innumerable 
precepts which were spread abroad and finally reached the 
ears of Morienus, then a young man at Rome. This reminds 
us of the opening of the Recognitions of Clement. Morienus 
left his home, parents, and native land, and hastened to 
Alexandria to the house of Adfar. When Adfar learned 
that Morienus was a Christian, he promised to divulge to 
him "the secrets of all divinity," which he had hitherto kept 
concealed from nearly everyone. When Adfar died, 
Morienus left Alexandria and became a hermit at Jerusa- 
lem. Not many years thereafter a king arose in Egypt 
named Macoya, He begat a son named Gezid who reigned 
after his father's death and in his turn begat a son named 
Calid who reigned after his death. This Calid was a great 
patron of science and searched all lands for someone who 
could reveal this book of Hermes to him. Morienus was 
still living, and when a traveler brought him news of Calid 
and his desire, he came to his court, not for the sake of 
the gifts of gold which the king had offered, but in order 
to instruct him with spiritual gifts. Saluting Calid with 
the words, "O good king, may God convert you to a better," 
he asked for a house or laboratory in which to prepare his 
* Lippmann (1919), p. 358. 




masterpiece of perfection, but departed secretly as soon as 
it was consummated. When Calid saw the gold which 
Morienus had made, he ordered the heads to be cut oflf of 
all the other alchemists whom he had employed for years, 
and grieved that the hermit had left without revealing his 

More years passed before Calid's trusty slave, Galip, 
learned the identity and whereabouts of Morienus from an- 
other hermit of Jerusalem and was despatched with a laree 
retinue to bring him back. The king and the hermit at 
first engaged in a moral and religious discussion, and many 
days passed before Calid ventured to broach the subject of 
alchemy. He then put to Morienus a succession of ques- 
tions, such as whether there is one fundamental substance, 
and concerning the nature and color of the philosopher's 
stone, also its natural composition, weight and taste, cheap- 
ness or expensiveness, rarity or abundance, and whether 
there is any other stone like unto it or which has its effect. 
This last query Morienus answered in the negative, since in 
the philosopher's stone are contained the four elements and 
it is like unto the universe and the composition of the uni- 
verse. In the process of obtaining it decay must come first, 
then purification. As in human generation, there must first 
be coitus, then conception, then pregnancy, then birth, then 
nutrition. To such general observations and analogies, 
which are commonplaces of alchemy, are finally added sev- 
eral pages of specific directions as to alchemistic operations. 
Such enigmatic nomenclature is employed as "white smoke," 
and "green lion," but Morienus later explains to Calid the 
significance of most of these phrases. "Green lion" is glass; 
"impure body" 'is lead ; "pure body" is tin, and so on. 

In so far as I have examined the alchemical manu- 
scripts of the later middle ages,^ which I have not done very 

* Berthelot is a poor guide in 
any such matter since his preten- 
tious volumes on medieval al- 
chemy are based on the study of 
a comparatively small number of 
MSS at Paris. He made little or 

no use of the Sloane collection in 
the British Aluseum which is very 
rich in alchemical MSS, a subject 
in which Sir Hans Sloane was 
apparently much interested, or of 
the Ashmolean collection at Ox- 


secret of 
the phi- 



works of 
to Hermes. 

extensively owing to the fact that most of them consist of 
anonymous and spurious compositions which are probably 
of a later date than the period with which we are directly 
concerned/ I have hardly found as many treatises ascribed 
to Hermes Trismegistus as might be expected. Perhaps as 
many works are ascribed to Aristotle, Geber, and other 
famous names as to Hermes or Mercury. Thus out of some 
forty items in an alchemical miscellany of the fourteenth 
or fifteenth century ^ two are attributed to Hermes and 
Mercury, two to Aristotle, one to Plato, three to Geber, 
two to Albertus Magnus, and others to his contemporaries 
like Roger Bacon, Brother Elias, Bonaventura, and Arnald 
of Villanova. Of the two titles connected with Hermes 
one is simply a Book of Hermes; the other, A Treatise of 
Mercury to his disciple Mirnesindus. Other specimens of 
works ascribed to Hermes in medieval Latin manuscripts 
are : The Secrets of Hermes the philosopher, inventor of 
metals, according to the nature of transmutation^ or in an- 
other manuscript, "inventor of transformation," ^ a treatise 

ford, although Elias Ashmole 
edited the Theatrum Chemicutn 
Britannicum, 1652, "containing 
several poetical pieces of our 
famous English philosophers who 
have written the hermetic mys- 
teries in their own ancient lan- 
guage," — a work in which Ashmole 
himself is called Mercuriophilus 

^ The two earliest MSS used 
by Berthelot for medieval Latin 
alchemy were BN 6514 and 7156 
of the late 13th or early 14th cen- 
tury. In an earlier chapter we 
have mentioned Berlin 956 of the 
I2th century, fol. 21, "Hie incipit 
alchamia," and probably a fairly 
long list could be made of al- 
chemical MSS of the 13th cen- 
tury, like Digby 162 mentioned in 
a previous note to this chapter. 
However, as a rule the numerous 
alchemical collections in the 
Sloane MSS — a majority of the 
MSS numbered from about 3600 

to about 3900 are in whole or 
part concerned with alchemy, as 
well as a number of earlier num- 
bers — are not earlier than the 14th 
and 15th centuries, and many are 
subsequent to the invention of 

' Riccard. 119. 

' Sloane 1698, 14th century, fol. 
53-, "Hie incipiunt secreta Her- 
metis inventoris metallorum se- 
cundum transmutationis naturam 
.../.,. Explicit Hermes de 
salibus et corporibus." 

Corpus Christi, 125, fols. 39-42, 
"Incipiunt secreta Hermetis phi- 
losophi inventoris metallorum 
secundum mutacionis naturam." 

* Library of the Dukes of Bur- 
gundy 4275, 13th century, Secreta 
Hermetis philosophi "Inventor 
transformationis." The preceding 
item 4274 is in the same MS and 
consists of an exposition of 
Hermes' words, "Quoniam ea 
quae . . ." etc. 







on the fountain of youth by Trismegistus ; ^ and a work on 
alcohol ascribed to "father Hermes." ^ The Early English 
Text Society has reprinted an English translation of the 
Latin treatise on the fifth essence "that Hermes, the prophet 
and king of Egypt, after the flood of Noah, father of 
philosophers, had by revelation of an angel of God to him 
sent," which was first published "about 1460- 1476 by Fred 
J. Furnival." ^ "The book of Hermogenes" is also to be 
accredited to Hermes Trismegistus.^ 

Among the Arabs and in medieval Latin learning the 
reputation of Hermes continued not only as an alchemist, 
but as a fountain of wisdom in general. Roger Bacon spoke Hermes 
of "Hermes Mercurius, the father of philosophers." ^ 
Daniel of Morley we have heard cite works of Trismegistus 
and distinguish between "two most excellent authorities," 
the "great Mercury," and his nephew, "Trismegistus Mer- 
curius." ® Albertus Magnus cited "The so-called Sacred 
Book of Hermes to Asclepius," "^ an astrological treatise of 
which the Greek version has been mentioned in our earlier 
chapter on Hermes, Orpheus, and Zoroaster. And Albert's 
contemporary, William of Auvergne, bishop of Paris, makes 
use several times ^ of the dialogue between Mercurius Tris- 
megistus, "the Egyptian philosopher and magician," and 
Asclepius from a Liber de hellera or De deo deoritm, 
which is presumably the Greek 'lepa /3i/3Xos. Trismegistus is 

^ Vienna 2466, 14th century, 
fols. 85-88, Trismegistus, aqua 

' Wolf enbiittel 2841, anno 1432, 
fols. 138-44V, De aque ardentis 
virtutibus mirabilibus que de vino 
utique fit. . . . 

'Reprinted London, 1866; re- 
vised, 1889. Treatises of alchemy 
are also ascribed to Hermes in 
Sloane 2135, 15th century, and 
2327, 14th century. 

*Arezzo 232, 15th century, fols. 
1-14, "Liber transmissus ab Alex- 
andro rege ex libro Hermogenis"; 
Bodleian 67, fol. 33V (Secret of 
Secrets of the pseudo- Aristotle), 
"Et pater noster Hermogenes qui 

triplex est in philosophia optime 
philosophando dixit." 

* Opus minus, ed. Brewer 
(1859), in RS XV, 313. 

* Arundel 377, 13th century, 
Philosophia fnagistri danielis de 
merlai, fols. 89r, 92V ; these cita- 
tions, like many others, are not 
included in V. Rose's faulty list 
of Daniel's authorities in his 
article. "Ptolemaeus und die 
Schule von Toledo," Hermes, 

vin (1874), 327-49. 

'' De animalibus, XX, i, 5, "dicit 
Hermes ad Esclepium." 

* The passages are mentioned in 
the chapter on William of Au- 
vergne ; see below, p. 350. 




represented as affirming that there is divine power in herbs 
and stones. In the Speculum ustronomiae ^ Albert Hsted a 
number of bad books on necromantic images ^ by Hermes 
of which Christians were to beware : a book of images for 
each of the seven planets, an eighth treatise following them, 
a work on The seven rings of the seven planets, a book of 
magical illusions (liber praestigiorum) ,^ and a book ad- 
dressed to Aristotle. William of Auvergne ^eems to allude 
to the same literature when he twice repeats a story of two 
fallen angels from Hermes, citing his Seven Planets in one 
case and Book of Venus in the other.^ Albertus Magnus 
also cites "books of incantations" by Hermes in his work 
on vegetables and plants ; ^ and a Liber Alcorath is ascribed 
to Hermes in the Liber aggregationis or Experimenta 
Alberti which is current under Albert's name. The as- 
trologer Cecco d'Ascoli in the early fourteenth century cites 
a treatise by Hermes entitled De speculis et luce ( Of mirrors 
and light). '^ These few instances of medieval citation of 
Hermes could of course be greatly multiplied but suffice to 
suggest the importance of his name in the later history of 
magic and astrology as well as of alchemy. 

We may, however, briefly examine some specimens of 
the works themselves, chiefly, as in the citations, of a magical 
and astrological character, which are current under Hermes' 
name in the medieval manuscripts. A treatise on fifteen 
stars, fifteen stones, fifteen herbs, and fifteen images to be 
engraved on the stones, is ascribed sometimes to Hermes and 
sometimes to Enoch. '^ The number fifteen is difficult to 

^Spec. astron., cap. il {Opera, 
ed. Borgnet, X, 641). 

' A book on necromantic images 
by Hermes is listed in the 1412 
A. D. catalogue of MSS of Am- 
plonius: Math. 54. 

* See in the same catalogue, 
Math. 9, Alercurii Colotidis liber 

* Opera, Venetiis, 1591, pp. 831, 

^ De veget. et plantis, V, ii, 6. 
*P. G. Boffito, // Commento di 

Cecco d'Ascoli all' Alcahiszo, 
Firenze, 1905, p. 43. 

^Catalogue of Amplonius (1412 
A. D.) Mathematica 53, "Liber 
Hermetis de quindecim stellis, tot 
lapidibus, tot herbis, et totidem 
figuris." But in Amplon. Quarto 
381, fols. 43-5, the work is as- 
cribed to Enoch, whom it is not 
surprising that Robert of Ches- 
ter classed as ooe of three Her- 

Ashmole 1471, 14th century. 




relate to planets, signs, or decans; in fact the fifteen stars 
are fixed stars supposed to exceed others in virtue. John 
Govver in the fourteenth century treated of the same sub- 
ject in his Confessio amantis} In the middle ages a Centi- 
loquium, or series of brief astrological dicta, was ascribed 
to Hermes as well as to Ptolemy. Some manuscripts imply 
that the Centiloquium of Hermes was a selection from the 
astrological treatises of Hermes put together by Stephen 
of Messina for Manfred, king of Sicily.^ In a fifteenth 
century manuscript is ascribed to Hermes a Latin astro- 
logical treatise of considerable length opening with the 
thirty-six decans and their astrological influence ^ but deal- 
ing with various other matters bearing upon the prediction 
of nativities; and a much briefer but equally astrological 
fols. 50r-55, "Incipit liber Herme- intituled De confessioii£ amantis.' 

tis de 15 Stellis, 15 lapidibus, 15 
herbis et 15 ymaginibus." 

Ashmole 341, 13th century, fols. 

Corpus Christi 125, fols. 70-75. 

Royal 12-C-XVIII, 14th cen- 

Harleian 80, 14th century. 

Harleian 1612. 

Sloane 3847, 17th century. 

BN 7440, 14th century. No. 4. 

Vienna 5311, I4-I5th century, 
fols. 37-40. 

Vienna 3124, 15th century, 
fols. 161-2, De Stellis fixis, trans- 
latus a Mag. Salione, is perhaps 
the same work. This Salio, who 
seems to have been a canon at 
Padua, also translated Alchabitius 
on nativities from Arabic into 
Latin: Ibid., fols. 96-123; BN 
7336, 15th century. If 13; S. 
Marco XI-iio, 15th century, fols. 
40-1 1 1. 

By the fourteenth century the 
work had been translated into 
French : 

CU Trinity 1313, early 14th 
century, fol. 11-, "Cy commence 
le livre Hermes le Philosofre 
parlaunt des 15 esteilles greyndres 
fixes et 15 pierres preciouses," etc. 

'Sloane 3847, fol. 83. "What 
stones and hearbes are appropria- 
ted unto the 15 Starres accord- 
inge to John Gower in his booke 

' Amplon, Quarto 354, mid 
14th century, fols. 1-3, "Centilo- 
quium Hermetis . . . domino 
Manfrido inclito regi Cicilie Ste- 
phanus de Messana has flores de 
secretis astrologie divi Hermetis 

CLM 51, 1487-1503 A. D., fols. 
46V-49, Hermetis divini Proposi- 
tiones sive flores Stephanus de 
Messana transtulit. Other MSS 
are numerous. 

Printed before 1500; I have 
used an edition numbered I A. 1 1947 
in the British Museum. It was 
printed behind Ptolemy at Venice 
in 1493. 

'Harleian 3731, 15th century, 
fols. ir-5or, "Incipit liber hermetis 
trismegisti de XXXVI decanis 
XII signorum et formis eorum et 
de climatibus et faciebus quas 
habent planete in eisdem signis." 
After this rubric the text 
opens, "Triginta sex autem de- 
cani"; closes, ". . . aspexerit ilium 
dictis prius mori." It is obvious- 
ly different from the Dialogue 
with Asclepius included in the 
works of Apuleius and longer 
than the Greek astrological text 
dealing with the thirty-six decans 
published by J. B. Pitra, Analecta 
Sacra, V, ii, 284-90. The discus- 
sion of the decans terminates at 
the bottom of fol. 2. 


work on Accidents, which we are told was rewritten by Haly 
before it was translated into Latin. ^ Two books of "Hermes 
the Philosopher" on the revolutions of nativities by some 
unspecified translator were printed by H. Wolf in 1559.^ 
A work on medical diagnosis of diseases from the stars 
without inspection of urine which is ascribed to Hermes in 
a Wolfenbiittel manuscript ^ would probably turn out upon 
examination to be the treatise on that theme of William 
of England. 
Of the By the thirteenth century, if not before, a treatise was 

aplcs^oT ^" existence by "Hermes Mercurius Triplex" on the six prin- 
Things. ciples of things "* with a prologue concerning the three 
Mercuries,^ of whom we have already heard Robert of 
Chester speak in his preface. Here too the first is identified 
with Enoch, the second with Noah, and the third is called 
triplex because he was at once king, philosopher, and 
prophet, ruling Egypt after the flood with supreme equity, 
renowned in both the liberal and mechanical arts, and the 
first to elucidate astronomy. He wrote The Golden Bough, 
Book of Longitude and Latitude, Book of Election, Canons 
on the Planets, and a treatise on the astrolabe. Among his 
pastimes he brought to light alchemy which the philosopher 
Morienus developed in his writings. The Six Principles of 

* Harleian 3731, fols. 170V-172V, it follows the treatise of William 
"Incipiunt sermones hermetis de of England. 

accidentibus. Ordina significa- * Digby 67, end of 12th century 

tiones fortiorem .../... erit according to the catalogue but I 

res egritudo. Explicit sermo her- should have placed it in the next 

metis de accidentibus rescriptus ab century, fols. 69-78, "Hermes 

Haly." Mercurius Triplex de vi rerum 

* Hermetis philosophi de revo- principiis multisque aliis naturali- 
lutionibus naiivitatum libri duo bus; partibus quinque ; cum pro- 
incerto interprete, in an astro- logo de tribus Mercuriis." 
logical collection by H. Wolf, Bodleian 464, 1318 A. D., fols. 
Basel, 1559, pp. 201-79. I5i-i62r, Hermetis Trismegisti 

•Wolfenbiittel 2841, anno 1432 opuscula quaedam ; primum de 6 

fols. 380-2. Liber Hermetis phi- rerum principiis, is almost iden- 

losophi de iudiciis urine sine visu tical. 

eiusdem urine et de prognosti- * A Liber mercurii trismegisti 

catione in egritudinibus secundum de tribus mercuriis appears in the 

astronomiam. 15th century catalogue of the MSS 

Vienna 5307, 15th century, fol. of St. Augustine's Abbey, Can- 

150, has a "Fragmentum. de iudicio terbury. 
urinae" ascribed to Hermes, but 


Things is a treatise part astronomical and part astrological, 
considering the natures of the signs and the powers of the 
planets in their houses. Citations of such authors as Zahel 
and Dorotheus show that the work is much later than 
Hermes. It is followed by four other brief treatises, of 
which the first discusses time, the winds, pestilences, divina- 
tion from thunder, and eclipses of the sun and the moon; 
the second and the third deal with the astrological topics, 
Of the triple power of the celestial bodies, and Of the 
efficacy of medicines according to the power of the planets 
and the effect of the signs. The fourth treatise tells how to 
use the astrolabe. 

Of the books of bad necromantic images for each of the Liher 
seven planets by Hermes, which the Specidimv astronomiae 
censured, at least one seems to have been preserved for our 
inspection in the manuscripts, since it has the same Incipit 
as that cited by Albert, "Probavi omnes libros . . . ," and 
the same title. Liber lune,^ or Book of the Moon, or, as it is 
more fully described, of the twenty-eight mansions and 
twenty-eight images of the moon and the fifty- four angels 
who serve the images. And as Albert spoke of a treatise 
of magic illusions which accompanied the seven books of 
necromantic images for the planets, so this Liber liine is 
itself also called Mercury's magic illusion.^ It probably is 
the same Book of Images of the Moon which William of 
Auvergne described as attempting to work magic by the 

* Corpus Christi 125, fols. 62- Florence II-iii-214, 15th cen- 

68 ("Liber lunae" is written in tury, fol. 8-, "Dixit Hermes huius 

the upper margin of fol. 62), libri editor, lustravi plures ima- 

"Hic incipit liber ymaginum tr. ginum"; fol. 9-, "Hec sunt yma- 

ab Hermete id est Mercurio qui gines septem planetarum et cha- 

latine prestigium Mercurii appel- racteres eorum" ; fols. 9-15, "liber 

latur, Helyanin in lingua Arabica ymaginum lune". . . . fols. 33-43, 

.../... Explicit liber lune de "Liber planetarum inventus in 

28 mansionibus lune translatus ab libris Hermetis." 
Hermete." * The Incipit, however, which 

Digby 228, 14th century, fols. Albert gave for Hermes' Liber 

S4V-5SV, incomplete. Macray de- praestigiorum, namely, "Qui geo- 

scrihes it as " 'Liber lune' ; tracta- metriae aut philosophiae peritus, 

tus de 28 mansionibus et 28 ima- expers astronomiae fuerit," iden- 

ginibus lunae, et de 54 angelis tifies it with Thebit ben Corat's 

'qui serviunt ymaginibus.' " work on images. 



on images 
of the 

names of God. The treatise opens in the usual style of 
apocryphal literature by narrating how this marvelous vol- 
ume came to be discovered. After some "investigator of 
wisdom and truth and friend of nature had read the volumes 
of many wise men," he found this one in a golden ark 
within a silver chest which was in turn placed in a casket of 
lead, — a variant on Portia's method. He then translated it 
into Arabic for the benefit of the many. Nevertheless we 
have the usual caution to fear God and not show the book 
to anyone nor allow any polluted man to touch it, since with 
it all evils as well as all goods may be accomplished. It 
tells how to engrave images as the moon passes through 
each of its twenty-eight houses. The names of angels have 
to be repeated seven times and suffumigations performed 
seven times in the name of God the merciful and pious. 
Just as the moon is nearer to us than other planets and more 
efficacious, so this book, if we understand it aright, is more 
precious than any other. Hermes declares that he has proved 
all the books of the seven planets and not found one truer or 
more perfect than this most precious portion. Balenuch, 
however, a superior and most skilful philosopher, does much 
of the talking for his master Hermes. The Latin text re- 
tains the Arabic names for the mansions of the moon, the 
fifty-four angels also have outlandish names, and a wood 
that grows in an island in India is required in the suffumi- 
gations. Instructions are given for engraving images which 
will destroy villa, region, or town; make men dumb; re- 
strain sexual intercourse within a given area; heat baths 
at night; congregate ten thousand birds and bees; or twist 
a man's limbs. Four special recipes are given to injure an 
enemy or cause him to sicken. 

We shall leave until our chapter on the Pseudo-Aristotle 
"The book of the spiritual works of Aristotle, or the book 
Antiniaqids, which is the book of the secrets of Hermes 
... the ancient book of the seven planets." But in at 
least one manuscript the work of Hermes on the images of 
the moon is accompanied by another briefer treatise 


ascribed to him on the images of the seven planets, one for 
each day of the week, to be made in the first hour of that 
day which is ruled by the planet after which the day is 
named. This little treatise begins with the words, "Said 
Hermes, editor of this book, I have examined many sciences 
of images." ^ Altogether I have noted traces of it in four 

In two of these manuscripts the work of Hermes on Book of 
images of the seven planets is immediately followed by a ofToz 
work of Toe or Toz Graecus on the occult virtues of stones 
called the Book of Venus or of the twelve stones of Venus. ^ 
The first part of the treatise, however, consists of instruc- 
tions, largely astrological in character but also including use 
of names of spirits and suffumigations, for casting a metal 
image in the name of Venus. Astrological symbols are to 
be placed on the breast, right palm, and foot of the image. 

In the discussion of stones each paragraph opens with 
the words, "Said Toz." The use of these stones is mainly 
medicinal, however, and consists usually in taking a certain 
weight of the stone in question. Of astrology, spirits, and 
power of words there is little more said. Some marvelous 
virtues are attributed to stones nevertheless. With one, if 
you secretly touch two persons who have hitherto been firm 
friends, you will make them enemies "even to the end of 

* See Florence II-iii-214, fols. 3883, fols. g6r-gg, "Liber Toe; et 

8-9, already listed with Incipits vocatur liber veneni {sic), et liber 

among the MSS of the Liber lune de lapidibus veneris. Dixit Toe 

on p. 223, note i above. Also Graecus observa Venerem cum 

Bodleian 463, 14th century, writ- perveniret ad pliades et coniuncta 

ten in Spain, fol. 77V, "Dixit fuerit." In the text and Explicit, 

hermes editor huius libri lustranti however, the author's name is 

plures imaginum ( ?) scientias in- often spelled Toz. This MS seems 

venit." The work is mutilated to be directly copied from Bod- 

at the end, as a leaf has been leian 463, for not only is it pre- 

torn out between those now num- ceded by the Hermes on images 

bered 77 and 78. See also Sloane for the seven planets and also by 

3883, 17th century, fol. 95- ; an "Instructio ptholomei" which 

Arundel 342, fol. 78v, "Herraetis deals with the subject of astro- 

ut fertur liber de imaginibus et logical images, but furthermore 

horis. it exactly reproduces its text, 

' Owing to the missing leaf down even to such a manuscript 

above mentioned only the latter copyist's pi as "ad dumtanpo 

part of the Liber Toe is now con- itulia" for "alicui ad potandum." 
tained in Bodleian 463. Sloane 



of Toz 

the world. And if anyone grates from it the weight of one 
argenteus and mixes it with serpent's blood (possibly the 
herb of that name) and gives it to anyone to drink, he will 
flee from place to place." 

Toz Graecus was cited by more than one medieval writer 
and the work which we have just been describing was not 
the only one that then circulated under his name, although 
it seems to be cited by Daniel Morley in the twelfth century.^ 
Albertus Magnus in his list of evil books on images in the 
Speculum astronomiae included a work on the images of 
Venus,^ another on the four mirrors of Venus, and a third 
on stations for the cult of Venus. This last is also alluded 
to by William of Auvergne, bishop of Paris, in his De 
universo, and ascribed by him to "Thot grecus." ^ There 
also was once among the manuscripts of Amplonius at 
Erfurt a "book of Toz Grecus containing fifty chapters on 
the stations of the planets." ^ Cecco d'Ascoli, the early 
fourteenth century astrologer, mentions together "Evax 
king of the Arabs and Zot grecus and Germa of Babylon." 
Which reminds one of Albert's allusion in his theological 
Summa ^ to "the teachings of that branch of necromancy" 
which treats of "images and rings and mirrors of Venus 
and seals of demons," and is expounded in the works of 
Achot of Greece — who is probably our Toz Graecus, Grema 
of Babylon, and Hermes the Egyptian. And again in his 

^Arundel 2>77, fol. loov, "Thoz 
Grecus Liber Veneris." 

'Spec, astron., cap. ii (Borgnet, 
X, 641), "Toz Graeci, de sta- 
tionibus ad cultum Veneris" 
opening "Commemoratio hiatori- 
arum" ; "de quatuor speculis 
eiusdem" opening "Observa Vene- 
rem cum pervenerit ad Pleiades" ; 
— this is the Incipit of our treatise 
in Sloane 3883, but the title does 
not seem to fit very well ; perhaps 
Albert, who says that he last 
looked at these bad books long 
ago and then with abhorrence, so 
that he is not sure he always 
has the titles and Incipits exact, 

has exchanged the Incipit with 
that of the third treatise, "de 
imaginibus veneris," which opens, 
"Observabis Venerem cum intra- 
bit Taurum." 

^ De universo II, ii, 96 (p. 895, 
ed. 1591), "Thot grecus in libro 
quem scripsit de cultu veneris 
dixit quandam stationem cultus 
illius obtinere ab ipsa venere 
colentes septem qui illi et veneri 

* Math. 8 in the catalogue of 
1412 A. D., Liber Toz Greci conti- 
nens 50 capitula de stacionibus 

' II, 30. 


work on minerals ^ Albert lists together as authorities on 
the engraving of gems with images the names of Magor 
Graecus, Germa of Babylon, and Hermes the Egyptian. 

Moreover, not only is the work of Toz closely associated Tozthe 
both in the extant manuscripts and by Albertus Magnus Tj^Jt^or 
with that of Hermes, but William of Auvergne's spelling Hermes 
"Thot" shows what has perhaps already occurred to the gistus. 
reader, that this Toe or Toz Graecus is no other than the 
Greek equivalent of the Egyptian god Thoth; in other 
words, Hermes Trismegistus himself. I have not yet men- 
tioned one Other treatise found in a seventeenth century 
manuscript, and which, while very likely a later invention, 
shows at least that Toz remained a name to conjure with 
down into modern times.- The work is called A commen- 
tary by To:: Graecus, philosopher of great name, upon the 
books of Solomon to Rehoboam concerning secrets of 
secrets. A long preface tells how Solomon summed up all 
his vast knowledge in this book for the benefit of his son 
Rehoboam, and Rehoboam buried it in his tomb in an ivory 
casket, and Toz after its discovery wept at his inability to 
comprehend it, until it was revealed to him through an 
angel of God on condition that he explain it only to the 

The text is full of magic experiments : experiments of Magic 
theft: experiments in invisibility; love experiment's; experi- ^enl:"' 
ments in gaining favor; experiments in hate and destruc- 
tion; "extraordinary experiments"; "playful experiments"; 
and so on. These with conjurations, characters, and 
suffumigations make up the bulk of the first book. The 
second book deals chiefly with "how exorcists and their allies 
and disciples should conduct themselves," and with the 
varied paraphernalia required by magicians : fasts, baths, 
vestments, the knife or sword, the magic circle, fumiga- 
tions, water and hyssop; light and fire, pen and ink, blood, 
parchment, stylus, wax, needle, membrane, characters, 

' II, iii, 3. expositio super libros salomonis de 

' BN 15127, fols. i-ioo, Toz secretis secretorum ad Roboam. 
Graeci philosophi nominatissimi 


sacrifices, and astrological images. Two of its twenty-two 
chapters deal with "the places where by rights experiments 
should be performed" and with "all the precepts of the arts 
or experiments." In another seventeenth century manu- 
script are Seven Books of Magical Experiments of Hermes 
Trismegistus. "And they are magic secrets of the kings of 
Egypt," drawn, we are told, from the treasury of Rudolph 
II, Holy Roman emperor from 1576 to 1612} Another 
manuscript at Vienna contains a German translation of 
the same work.^ 

^Wolfenbiittel 3338, 17th Gentury, 43 fols. 
'Vienna 11267, i7-i8th century, fols. 2-31. 



Question of the origin of the work — Its prefaces — Arrangement of 
the text — Virtues of a tree — Feats of magic — An incantation to an 
eagle — Alchiranus — Treatises on seven, twelve, and nineteen herbs — 

The virtues, especially medicinal, of plants and animals Question 
comprise the contents of a work in Latin of uncertain date origin of 
and authorship, usually called the Kiranides of Kiranus, the work. 
King of Persia.^ Thomas Browne, in his Pseudodoxia Epi- 
demica or Inquiry into Vulgar Errors, included in his list 
of "authors who have most promoted popular conceits, 
... Kiranides, which is a collection out of Harpocration 
the Greek and sundry Arabick writers delivering not only 
the Naturall but Magicall propriety of things, a work as 
full of vanity as variety, containing many relations, whose 
invention is as difficult as their beliefs, and their experi- 
ments sometime as hard as either." ^ The work purports 
to be a translation from the Greek version which in its 
turn was from the Arabic,^ and Berthelot affirms * that in 
antiquity Kiranides was cited by Galen and by Olympio- 
dorus, the historian and alchemist of the early fifth century, 

* I know of no very early print- dis Kyrani, regis Persarum. I 

ed editions, but have consulted a have not seen P. Tannery, Les 

copy published at Leipzig in 1638, Cyranides, in Congres interna- 

and two MSS, Ashmole 1471, late tional d'histoire des sciences, 

14th century, fols. I43v-i67r, and Geneva, 1904. 

Arundel 342, 14th century, in an ' I, 8. 

Italian hand. The work is also ' See Black's description of 

contained either in toto or brief Ashmole 1471, "Translator qui 

excerpt in several Sloane MSS, libros tres operis huius . . . 

and was printed in English in e Gracca versione (ex Arabico 

1685 as The Magick of Kiranus. textu annot377 facta) . . . Latinos 

See also Wolfenbiittel 1014, iSth fecit." 

century, fol. 102, De libro Kyrani- * Berthelot (1885) p. 47. 



while KroU cites a Greek manuscript at Paris as ascribing 
Its the third book of Kiranides to Hermes Trismegistus.-^ 

prefaces. q-j^g preface of the medieval Latin translator is by "a 

lowly cleric" who addresses some ecclesiastical or scholastic 
superior, possibly the Chancellor at Paris. ^ He marvels 
that the mind of his patron, which has penetrated beyond 
the seven heavens to contemplate supernatural things above 
our sphere, should nevertheless not disdain an interest in 
the most lowly of terrene "experiments." The master has 
asked him to translate this medical book from Greek into 
Latin, a task easier to ask than to execute. There are sev- 
eral Greek versions of it, all professedly translations from 
some oriental original, but the volume which his patron 
gave him to translate into Latin is that translated into Greek 
at Constantinople in ii68^ or 1169^ by order of the 
Byzantine emperor, Manuel Comnenus, whom we shall also 
find associated with the Letter of Prester John of which we 
shall treat in the next chapter. The translator speaks 
of the work as The Book of Natural Virtues, Com- 
plaints, and Cures, but adds that it is a compilation from 
two other books, namely, The Experience of the Kiranides 
of Kiranus, King of Persia, and The Book of Harpocra- 
tion ^ of Alexandria to his Daughter. There then follows 
the preface of Harpocration to his daughter, which tells of 
a certain city and of encountering an aged sage there, of 
great towers and of precious writing on a column which 
Harpocration proceeds to transcribe. We are given to un- 

^ Article Hermes Trismegistus also tends to preclude. Possibly 

in PW 798. the translator may be Philip, the 

*Ashmole 1471, fols. I43v-i67r, cleric of Tripoli, who speaks of 

"Incipit liber Kirannidarum in quo himself in a similarly humble 

premittitur tale prohemium. Pru- style, and of whom we shall speak 

dentissimo domino Magistro Ka. in the next two chapters. 

Parissen. infimus clericus salu- ' According to the printed tgxt 

tern." The translator's address to of 1638. 

his patron sounds a little like *Ashmole 1471, "anno Christi 

Hugh of Santalla, but a date after 1280 aliter 1169." 

1 168 is rather late either for Hugh "Harpocration is cited by 

or the anonymous Sicilian trans- Galen: see Kiihn XH, 629, "ad 

lator of the Almapest, whom the aures purulentas Harpocration." 
association in this case with Paris 


derstand that the original was written in "antique archaic 
Syriac" and was as old as the Euphrates. 

The text is divided into four books, each arranged alpha- Arrange- 
betically. The first book subdivides into "Elements." For [hefext 
example, Elementimi XII is devoted to a tree, a bird, a stone, 
and a fish, each of which begins with the letter M. Most, 
however, of the virtues and medicinal prescriptions which 
follow have to do with the tree or herb only. The second 
book treats of beasts or quadrupeds, the third of birds, and 
the fourth of fish. 

Much superstition and magical procedure is found scat- Virtues 

of ^ tree 

tered through, or better, crowded into, the book. For in- 
stance, in a medicinal application of the cyme of the tree 
Mop€a, one is to face the southwest wind, use two fingers 
of the left hand to remove the cyme, then look behind one 
toward the east, wrap the cyme in purple or red silk {vera?), 
and touch the patient with it or bind it about her. In an- 
other recipe the fruit of this tree is to be compounded in 
varying proportions with such substances as an Indian stone 
and the tips of the wings of crows and is then to be stirred 
with a crow's feather until the mixture is "soft and sticky." 
In a third prescription a stone engraved with an image of 
the fish mentioned under the letter M — /lop/iupos, and en- 
closed in an iron box, is to be combined with the "eyes" 
(buds?) of the tree Morea as an amulet against certain 

In some cases the end sought as well as the procedure Feats of 
employed is magical rather than medicinal. In another i"agic. 
chapter of the first book, for example, the reader is in- 
structed how to make a licinium or combustible compound in 
whose light those present will appear to one another like 
flaming demons. Or in book two the reader is told that 
wearing the dried tongue of a weasel inside his socks will 
close the mouths of his enemies. The weasel's testicles, 
right and left, are used as charms to stimulate and prevent 
conception respectivelv. 



An incan- 
tation to 
an eagle. 


Incantations are employed in connection with the eagle, 
the first of forty-four birds taken up in the third book. 
Catch one, collect the dung it makes during the first day and 
night of its captivity, then bind its feet and beak and whis- 
per in its ear, "Oh, eagle, friend of man, I am about to slay 
you for the cure of every infirmity. I conjure you by the 
God of earth and sky and by the four elements that you 
efficaciously work each and every cure for which you are 
oblated." The eagle is then decapitated with a sword com- 
posed entirely of iron, all its blood is carefully caught in a 
bowl, its heart and entrails are removed and placed in wine, 
and other directions observed. The discussion of the virtues 
of fish in the fourth and last book is essentially identical in 
character with the examples already given for plants, birds, 
and beasts. 

In a sixteenth century manuscript at Venice ^ is a Latin 
version which would seem to be translated from the Arabic 
since it gives the author's name as Alchiranus, although 
some scholiast has interpolated and added to the words of 
this author and of Harpocration. As described by Valen- 
tinelli the arrangement into books is the same as that which 
we have noted. Valentinelli also was impressed by the fact 
that "medical substances are used to produce not merely 
physical but moral effects, such as prescience of the 
future, dispelling demons and evil phantoms, avoiding ship- 
wreck by binding the heart of a foca to the mast of the 
vessel; discovering what sort of life a woman has led, be- 
coming invisible, averting storms, perils, wild beasts, rob- 
bers." And further that "the efficacy of the medicaments 
is dependent upon their mode of preparation or application, 
at the rising or setting of the sun, at the waning or waxing 
of the moon, by uttering certain words or engraving 

stones. ^ 

*S. Marco XIV, 2,7, fols. i_i-73 
Alchirani, liber de proprietatibus 
rerum. Liber physicalium vir- 
tutiim, compassionum et curatio- 
num, collectus ex libris duobus. 

' Bibliotheca Manuscripta ad S. 

Marci Venetiarum, Codices MSS 
Lat'mi, V (1872) 109-10.... 
"medicamina proponuntur ad ef- 
fectus non tantum physicos sed et 
morales progignendos. Eiusmodi 
sunt ad praescienda futurorum; 




The Latin translator of the Kiranides sa3'S that it should Treatises 

be preceded by the book of Alexander the Great concerning °^eWe^"' 

seven herbs and the seven planets, and by the Mystery of and nine- 

Thessalus to Hermes about twelve herbs for the twelve herbs. 

signs of the zodiac and seven herbs for the seven stars. And 

in what is left of the preface to the latter treatise in an 

Erfurt manuscript we are told that after discovering the 

volumes of the Kyranides the writer found also in the city 

of Troy the present treatise enclosed in a monument along 

with the bones of the first king named Kyrannis.^ The first 

treatise on seven herbs, however, seems to be more often 

ascribed in the manuscripts to an Alexius Affricus ^ or 

Flaccus Africanus ^ than to Alexander the Great,* Alexius 

ad fugandos daemones et phantas- 
mata mala ; ad nauf ragium evitan- 
dum, dummodo cor focae in ar- 
bore navis ligetur ; ad sciendum 
quid mulier egerit in vita sua ; ad 
corpus invisibile reddendum; ad 
avertendum tempestates, pericula, 
feras, latrones. Medicaminum 
autem efficacitas pendet ab eorum 
confectione vel applicatione, in 
ortu vel occasu solis, sub aug- 
mento aut diminutione lunae, 
verbis quibusdam prolatis vel 
lapidibiis insculptis." 

*Amplon. Quarto 217, No. 5, 
"Post antiquarum kyrannidarum 
volumina . . . invent in civitate 
troiana in monumento reclusum 
presentem libellum cum ossibus 
primi regis kyrannis qui compen- 
dium aureum intitulatur eo quod 
per discussionem (or distinc- 
tionem?) factam a maiorum 
kyrannidarum volumine diligenter 
compilatum et studio vehementi 
tractat de vii herbis vii planetis 
attributis secundum illas impres- 
siones." See also Vienna 5289, 
15th century, fol. 21, "Tractatus 
de septem herbis et septem plane- 
tis qui dicitur inventus in ciuitate 
Trojana in monumento primi 
Regis Kyrani" sive "aureum 

*Ashmole 1450, i5th century, 
fol. 31V, "Incipit quidam trac- 
tatus de vii herbis vii planetis at- 
tributis. Alexius Affricus, dis- 

cipulus Belbeis, Claudio Arthe- 
niensi epylogiticis studium con- 
tinuare et finem cum laude. Post 
etiam antiquorum Kirannidarum 
volumina"; only the first page of 
the treatise now remains in this MS. 

All Souls 81, i5-i6th century, 
fols. i33y-45, "De virtutibus et 
operationibus septem herbarum 
secretarum per ordinem, et quo- 
modo per eas fiunt mirabilia" ; the 
treatise, however, here appears in 
English and by "Alaxus Affrike, 
disciple of Robert Claddere of the 
worthye studie." 

CLM 405, 14- 1 5th century, fol. 
98, Fracii Africii liber de vii her- 
bis vii planetis attributis. 

•Amplon. Q. 217, 14th century, 
fols. 51-54, Incipit tractatus de vii 
herbis vii planetis attributis Flacti 
Africani discipuli Belbenis. . . . 
Glandegrio Atthoniensi epylogitico 

Sloane 1754, 14th century, fols. 
45-57, "Flacius Affricus discipulus 
Bellenis Glandigero Atthonensi 

Sloane 75, 15th century, fols. 
131-2, "Inquit Flaccus Affricanus 
discipulus Beleni septem sunt 

See also Sloane 73, fols. 4-7; 
Sloane 3092, 14th century, fols. 2-6. 

Berlin 900 (Latin Octavo 42), 
anno 1510, Compendium aureum 
des Flaccius Africanus. 

" Ashmole 1448, 15th century. 


or Flaccus seems to address his work to a Claudius or Glan- 
diger of Athens. The work of Thessalus, whose name is 
sometimes corrupted to Tesalus or Texilus, and whose work 
is variously styled of twelve or of nineteen herbs, usually 
is found with the other treatise in the manuscripts.^ It was 
one of the authorities acknowledged by Jacobus de Dondis 
in his Aggregatio Medicament oriim, written in I355-^ The 
treatise on seven herbs of Alexander or Flaccus Africanus 
closes with the direction that the herbs should be gathered 
from the twenty-first to twenty-seventh day of the moon, 
with Mercury rising during the entire first hour of the day. 
As they are plucked, the passion of our Lord should be 
mentioned, and they should be preserved in barley or wheat. 
But one manuscript adds, "But do not put credulity in them 
beyond due measure." ^ We have, of course, already met 
with similar treatises ascribed to Enoch and Hermes.^ 
Belenus. The Belenus, as whose disciple Flaccus Africanus is 

represented, is also the reputed author of a work on astro- 
logical images found in several manuscripts of the British 
Museum.^ Albertus Magnus in the Speculum astronomiae 
attributed to Belenus two reprehensible books of necro- 
mantic images.^ The Tiirba philosophorum, a medieval 
work of alchemy consisting in large measure of Latin re- 
pp. 44-45, "Virtutes septem her- MSS listed in the preceding notes 
barum et septem planetarum se- contain the Thessalus also, 
cundum Alexandrum imperato- ' "Tesalus in secretis de xii her- 

rem." bis per signa celi et de vii secun- 

Vienna 3124, 15th century, fol. dum planetas." 
49, Alexander is given as the ' Digby 147, 14th century, fol. 

author in the catalogue, but I do 106. 

not know if the name actually ap- * See above chapters 13, 45. 

pears in the MS. 'Royal 12-C-XVIII, 14th cen- 

* Berlin Folio 573, fol. 22, Liber tury (?), Baleni de imaginibus. 
Thesali philosofi de virtutibus 19 Sloane 3826, 17th century, fols. 

herbarum. loov-ioi. Liber Balamini sapientis 

Amplon. Quarto 217, $5. de sigillis planetarum. 

Montpellier 277, 15th century. Sloane 3848, 17th century, fols. 

Vienna 3124, 15th century, fols. s?-8, 59-62. liber sapientis Balemyn 
49-53. Texili, "Liber secretorum de ymaginibus septem planetarum. 
de virtutibus 12 herbarum se- 'Opera ed. Borgnet, X, 64!, 

cundum influentiam quam recipi- "Belenus, liber de horarum opere, 
unt a 12 celestibus signis." 'Dixit Belenus qui et Apollo 

Judging by their varying length, dicitur, imago . . . ;' liber de 
I should imagine that some of the quati^or imaginibus ab aliis sepa- 


translation of Arabic versions from Greek alchemists, also 
cites a Belus or Belinus. The name is believed to be a 
corruption from Apollonius of Tyana, v^^ith whom Apol- 
lonius of Perga, the mathematician, is perhaps also con- 
fused.^ One of the Incipits of the tracts listed in the 
Speculum astronomiae is, "Said Belenus who is also called 
Apollo," However, many medieval Latin manuscripts at- 
tribute works to Apollonius under that name, as in the case 
of a work on the Notory Art which we shall mention in an- 
other chapter. - 

ratis, 'Differentia in qua fiunt ^ See below, chapter 49, pp. 

imagines magnae. . . .' " 281-3. 

'Berthelot (1893) I, 257-8. 



Medieval notions of the marvels of India — India's real contribution 
to knovi'ledge — The legend of Prester John — Miracles of the Apostle 
Thomas — Otto of Freising en Prester John — Prester John's letter to 
the Emperor Manuel — Marvels recounted by Prester John — Additional 
marvels in later versions — The letter of Pope Alexander III — Philip, 
the papal physician. 

Medieval In a twelfth century manuscript at Berlin a treatise on pre- 
the mar° cious stones and their medicinal and other marvelous virtues 
velsof which is ascribed to St. Jerome/ opens with a prologue de- 
scribing a voyage to India, the home of the carbuncle, 
emerald, and other gems, and the land of mountains of gold 
guarded by dragons, griffins, and other monsters. According 
to this prologue the navigation of the Red Sea is extremely 
dangerous and takes six months, while another full year is 
required to cross the ocean to India and the Ganges. 

India was still a distant land of wonders and home of 
magic to the minds of medieval men, as it had been in the 
Life of Apolloniiis of Tyana, and as even to-day many 
westerners are credulous concerning its jugglers, fakirs, 
yogis, and theosophists. So William of Auvergne, bishop 
of Paris, writing in the first half of the thirteenth century, 
states that feats of magic are very seldom wrought in the 
Europe of his time. For one thing, as Origen and other 
early church fathers had already explained, the demons 
since the coming of Christ to earth had largely ceased their 
magical activities in Christian lands. But another reason 
was that the materials for working natural magic, the gems 
and herbs and animals with marvelous virtues, were seldom 
found in European lands. In India and other countries 

* Berlin 956, 12th century, fols. 24-25. 


adjacent to it, on the contrary, such materials were abun- 
dant. Hence natural magic still flourished there and it 
was a land of many experimenters and of skilful marvel- 
workers.^ Similarly Albertus Magnus, discussing the mar- 
velous powers of astrological images, states that the best 
gems upon which to engrave them are those from India.^ 
Costa ben Luca says in his work on physical ligatures that 
doctors in India are firm believers in the efficacy of incanta- 
tions and adjurations; and about 1295 Peter of Abano 
speaks in his Phisionomia of the wise men of India as prolix 
on astrological themes. Medieval geomancies, too, often 
claim a connection with India. ^ 

It should also be kept in mind, however, that medieval India's 
men believed that they derived from India learning which [r^u'tTon 
seems to us even to-day as sound and useful as it did to them toknowl- 
then ; for example, the Hindu-Arabic numerals.^ Leonardo 
of Pisa, the great arithmetician of the early thirteenth cen- 
tury, tells us in the preface to his Liher Abaci^ how, sum- 
moned as a boy to join his father who was a customs offi- 
cial at a trading station in Algeria, he was introduced to 

^ Gulielmi Alverni . . . Opera Reckoning, Concord, 1914; L. C. 

Omnia, 1591, p. 1003, De universo, Karpinski, "Two Twelfth Century 

II, iii, 23. Algorisms," Isis, III (1921) 396- 

'^ Mineral. II, iii, 4. 413. For "newly discovered evi- 

* One condemned at Paris in dence showing that the Hindu nu- 
1277 began, "The Indians have merals were known to and justly 
believed . . ." ; two in a Harleian appreciated by the Syrian writer 
]\1S 2404 are called Indeana; a Sevcrus Sebokht, who lived in 
third, part Latin and part French, the second half of the seventh 
in Sloane MS 314 of the isth century," see F. Nau in Journal 
century, opens, "This is the asiatique, 1910, and J. Ginsburg, 
Indyana of Gremmgus which is "New Light on our Numerals," in 
called the daughter of astronomy the Bulletin of the American 
and which one of the sages of Mathematical Society, XXIII 
India wrote." See also CU (1917) 366-9. On the question of 
Magdalene 27 (F. 4,27, Haenel the debt of Arabic algebra to 
23), late 14th century, fols. 72- India, especially in the case of 
88, "Hec est geomentia Indiana IVIuhammad. b. Musa al-Hwaraz- 
que vocatur filia Ast . . . quam mi, who was also an astrologer, 
fecit unius {sic) sapientum In- see J. Ruska Zur alt est en ara- 
die. . . ." bischen Algebra und Rechenkunst, 

* See D. E. Smith and L. C. in Sitzb. d. Heidelberger Akad- 
Karpinski, The Hindu-Arabic Nu- cmie d. IViss. Philos. hist. Klasse, 
merals, Boston, 191 1; S. R- 1917. 

Benedict, A Comparative Study ' Scritti di Leonardo Pisano, 

of the Early Treatises introduc- vol. I, 1857. 
ing into Europe the Hindu Art of 




legend of 

of the 

the art of reckoning "by a marvelous method through the 
nine figures of the Indians." Thus we see that India's 
marvels were not always false. Later he traveled in Egypt, 
Syria, Greece, Sicily, and Provence and studied their vari- 
ous methods of reckoning, but vastly preferred the Indian 
method to all others, returned to a more intensive study of 
it, and developed it further by additions from Euclid and 
contributions of his own. Not always, it is true, were 
medieval mathematicians as favorable to Indian methods as 
this. Jordanus Nemorarius in one passage characterizes 
an Indian theorem as "nothing but mere credulity without 
demonstration." ^ But to return to the natural marvels of 

In the extraordinary accounts of Prester John,- which 
are first met in the twelfth century and were added to with 
succeeding centuries and which had great currency from 
the start, as the number of extant manuscripts shows, the 
natural marvels of India vie in impressiveness and wonder- 
ment with the power of Prester John himself and with the 
miracles of the Apostle Thomas. 

Odo, Abbot of St. Remy from 1118 to 1151, states in a 
letter in response to the inquiry of a Count Thomas what 
had happened when he was recently in Rome. Byzantine 
ambassadors introduced to the pope an archbishop of 
India who had already had the extraordinary and discon- 
certing experience of having to return a third time to Con- 
stantinople for a new prince for his country, each previous 
Byzantine nominee having died on his hands. This arch- 
bishop said that the body of the Apostle Thomas was pre- 
served in his country in a church rich in treasure and orna- 
ments and surrounded by a river fordable only at the time 

^Jordani Nemorarii Geornejria 
vel De triangulis libri IV, ed. M. 
Curtze, Thorn, 1887, pp. 43-44. 

' A good brief summary of the 
results of d'Avezac, Zarncke, and 
others will be found in Sir Henry 
Yule's article on "Prester John," 
EB. For the various texts to be 

here considered, with later inter- 
polations and additions distin- 
guished, see Friedrich Zarncke, 
Der Priest er Johannes, in Ab- 
handl. d. Kgl. Sachs. Gesells. d. 
Wiss. VII (1879), 627-1030; VIII 
(1883) 1-186. 


of the saint's festival. On that solemn occasion the 
Apostle's body was shown to believers and the Apostle would 
raise his arm and open his hand to receive their gifts, but 
close it and refuse to receive any gift offered by a heretic. 
When this tale reached the pope's ears he forbade the arch- 
bishop to disseminate such falsehoods further under pain 
of anathema, but the archbishop finally convinced the pope 
by taking an oath on the holy gospels. 

Another longer and anonymous account has come down 
from manuscripts going back to the twelfth century of the 
visit of a Patriarch John of India to Rome under Pope 
Calixtus II (1119-1124), It is this account which is often 
joined in the manuscripts and early printed editions with 
the Letter of Prester John of which we shall presently 
speak. In this account the Patriarch John told "of memo- 
rable matters of his Indian region that were unknown to 
the Romans," such as of the gold and gems in the river 
Physon which flows from Paradise, "but especially of the 
miracles of the most holy Apostle Thomas." Without 
going into further details, such as that of the miraculous 
balsam lamp, which differ a good deal from Odo's account, 
it may be noted that in this account the Apostle's hand 
ministers the Eucharist to believers and refuses it to infidels 
and sinners. 

We have progressed from an archbishop of India to a Otto of 
Patriarch John ; we now come to Prester John the monarch. on^pr'"s^er 
The historian, Otto of Freising, learned in 1145 from a John, the 
Syrian bishop at Rome of a great victory recently gained of the 
over the Moslems by "a certain John who lived beyond Magi. 
Persia and Armenia in the extreme East, a king and priest, 
since he was a Christian by race but a Nestorian . . . 
Prester John, for so they are wont to call him." He was 
of the ancient progeny of the Magi mentioned in the Gospel, 
ruled the same races as they, and enjoyed such glory and 
abundance that he was said to use only an emerald scepter. 
After his victory he would have come to the aid of the 
crusaders at Jerusalem, but could not cross the Tigris, al- 



John's let- 
ter to the 

though he marched north along its eastern bank and waited 
for some years in the hope that it would freeze over.* 

This Prester John was to be heard from again, however, 
for in the same century there appeared a letter purporting 
to have been written by him to the Byzantine Emperor, 
Manuel (1143-1180).^ It is in this letter that the natural 
and artificial marvels of India and adjacent territories — 
Prester John's dominion reaches from farther India to the 
Babylonian desert — are especially recorded. This letter 
even in its earliest and briefest form seems without doubt a 
western forgery and bears the marks of its Latin origin,^ 

*In Yule (1903) I, 231-7, Cor- 
dier discusses whether this mon- 
arch was Gurkhan of Kara Khitai 
(as urged by d'Avezac and Op- 
pert) who "in 1 141 came to the 
aid of the King of Khwarizmi 
against Sanjar, the Seljukian sov- 
ereign of Persia, . . . and de- 
feated that prince with great 
slaughter," or whether he was 
"John Orbelian . . . for years the 
pride of Georgia and the hammer 
of the Turks" (as urged by Pro- 
fessor Bruun of Odessa). 

* For its text, with interpola- 
tions distinguished from the origi- 
nal text, see Zarncke (1879) 909- 
924. Some of the passages which 
Zarncke regards as interpolations 
are, however, already found in 
I2th century MSS. On the 
other hand, his text does not in- 
clude all the interpolations and 
variations to be found even in the 
MSS which he describes. For 
instance, in BN 6244A, fol. I30r, 
just before the description of the 
herb assidios, occurs a passage 
which may be translated as fol- 
lows : "You should know also 
that in our country we do not need 
doctors, for we have precious 
stones, herbs, fountains, and trees 
of so great virtue that they pre- 
vail against every infirmity and 
against poisons and wounds. And 
we have books which instruct us 
and distinguish between the po- 
tencies and virtues of the herbs." 
In this MS Prester John is also 
more voluble on the theme of his 

devotion to the Christian faith 
than appears in Zarncke's text, 
and (fols. I27v-i28r) repeats the 
story of the administration of 
the Eucharist by the hand of the 
body of the Apostle Thomas. 
Zarncke lists about one hundred 
MSS of the letter but fails to 
use or mention any of those in 
the Bodleian Library where, for 
instance, Digby 158, fols. 2r-5v, is 
of the twelfth century. Another 
twelfth century MS not in his 
list is Paris Arsenal 379A, fol. 
34. Zarncke also does not list the 
MSS of the letter at Madrid 
and Wolfenbiittel. 

'In many MSS. nothing is said 
of its being a translation or when 
or by whom it was translated ; 
others state that it was translated 
into Greek and Latin, or, in at 
least one case, from Arabic into 
Latin. Only from the thirteenth 
century on, I think, is Christian, 
Archbishop of Mainz, sometimes 
said to have translated it from 
Greek into Latin. Often it is 
simply stated that Manuel trans- 
mitted the letter to the Emperor 
Frederick, to whom also it is 
sometimes represented as sent 
direct by Prester John. Some- 
times it is to the Pope to whom 
the letter comes from Manuel 
or Prester John. 

The statement that Manuel 
transmitted the letter to the Em- 
peror Frederick makes one won- 
der whether Anselm, Bishop of 
Havelberg and later of Ravenna, 




since despite the use of a few Greek ecclesiastical and official 
terms ^ and the attempt to rehearse unheard-of wonders, the 
writer indulges in a sneer at Greek adoration of the em- 
peror - and is unable to conceive of Prester John except as 
a feudal overlord ^ with the usual kings, dukes and counts, 
archbishops, bishops and abbots under him. The letter then 
is of value chiefly as showing us what ideas prevailed con- 
cerning India and the orient in the Latin world of the 
twelfth and succeeding centuries, for the letter received 
many additions and variations, was translated into the 
vernacular languages, and appeared in print before ISOC* 
In the following account of its contents, however, I shall 
try to describe the letter as it existed in the twelfth century, 
after which I shall mention what seem to be interpolations 
of the thirteenth or later centuries. 

But while different copies of the work vary, all have Marvels 
the same general character. Prester John tells what a [y^Pres^er 
mighty and Christian potentate he is and describes his mar- John, 
velous palaces and contrivances or the natural marvels, 
strange beasts and serpents, monstrous races of men, potent 
herbs, stones, and fountains, to be found in the lands owning 
his sway. In one province is the herb assidios which en- 
ables its bearer to rout an impure spirit and force him to 

can have had anything to do with 
it. He was sent by Frederick 
on an embassy to Manuel in 1153, 
which seems to identify him with 
the author of a "Liber de diver- 
sitate nature et persone proprie- 
tatumque personaliwm non tarn 
Latinorum quam ex Grecorum 
auctoritatibus extractus" — CUL 
1824 (Qi. vi. 27), beautiful 13th 
century hand, fols. 129-76, — who 
states in his preface that he col- 
lected his Greek authorities in 
Constantinople where he was sent 
by Frederick on an embassy to 
Manuel, and on his return to Ger- 
many showed them to Petro 
venerabili Tusculano episcopo." 

* Such as Apocrisarius and 
Archimandrite, a word however 
not entirely unknown in the west; 

see Ducange. 

' "Cum enim hominem nos esse 
cognoscamus, te Graeculi tui 
Deum esse existimant, cum te 
mortalem et humanae corruptioni 
subiacere cognoscamus," Zarncke 
(1879) 910. 

* For instance, the writer twice 
alludes to the square before Pres- 
ter John's palace where he 
watches the combatants in judicial 
duels or wager of battle, Zarncke 
(1879) 918, 919. 

* I have seen a copy in the Brit- 
ish Museum (lA. 8685), De Mira- 
bilibus Indiae, where the account 
given Calixtus II of miracles of 
the Apostle Thomas is run to- 
gether with the letter of Prester 


disclose his name and whence he comes. "Wherefore im- 
pure spirits in that land dare not take possession of any- 
one." ^ A fountain flows from Mount Olympus not three 
days' journey from Paradise whence Adam was expelled. 
Three draughts from it taken fasting insure one henceforth 
from all infirmity, and however long one may live, one will 
seem henceforth but thirty years of age.^ Then there are 
some little stones which eagles often bring to Prester John's 
territories and which worn on the finger preserve or restore 
the sight, or if consecrated with a lawful incantation, make 
one invisible and dispel envy and hatred and promote con- 
cord.^ After a description of a sea of sand in which there 
are various kinds of edible fish and a river of stones, Prester 
John soon mentions the worms which in his language are 
called salamanders, who cannot live except in fire, and from 
whose skins he has robes made which can be cleansed only 
by fire.* After some boasting concerning the absence of 
poverty, crime, and falsehood in his country and about the 
pomp and wealth with which he goes forth to war, Prester 
John then comes to the description of his palace, which is 
similar to that which the Apostle Thomas built for Gunda- 
phorus, King of India. Its gates of sardonyx mixed with 
cornu cerastis (horn of the horned serpents) prevent the 
secret introduction of poison; a couch of sapphire keeps 

^Zarncke, 912; Digby 158, fol. fol. I45r. It will be recalled 

2v; BN 2342, fol. 191V; BN 3359, that Charlemagne is said to have 

fol. 144V. had such a garment. Pliny dis- 

^Zarncke, 912-913; MSS as be- cussed both salamanders and 

fore. This fountain of youth was asbestos but did not connect the 

little improved upon by another two. Marco Polo, however, says 

inserted later (Zarncke, 920-21; (I 42, Yule (1903) I, 212-3), 

BN 3359, fol. 146V; not in the "The real truth is that the sala- 

other two MSS), which one had mander is no beast, as they allege 

to taste thrice daily on a fasting in our part of the world, but is 

stomach for three years, three a substance found in the earth, 

months, three weeks, three days, . . . Everybody must be aware that 

and three hours, in order to live it can be no animal's nature to 

and remain youthful for three live in fire, seeing that every ani- 

hundred years, three months, three mal is composed of all four ele- 

weeks, three days, and three hours. ments." Polo confirms, however, 

' Zarncke, 913 ; Digby 158, fol. the report of robes made of in- 

3r, etc. combustible mineral fibre and 

* Zarncke, 915; Digby 158, fol. cleansed by fire. 
3v; BN 2342, fol. I92r; BN 3359, 





John chaste; the square before the palace where judicial 
duels are held is paved with onyx "in order that the courage 
of the fighters may be increased by the virtue of the stone." ^ 
Near this square is a magic mirror which reveals all plots 
in the provinces subject to Prester John or in adjacent 
lands.- In some manuscripts of the twelfth century is a 
description of another palace which before Prester John's 
birth his father was instructed in a dream to build for his 
son. One feature of it is that no matter how hungry one 
may be on entering it, he always comes out feeling as full 
as if he had partaken of a sumptuous banquet.^ 

To such marvels in the early versions of the Letter of Additional 
Prester John were added others in the course of the thir- 
teenth century and later middle ages : — the huge man-eating 
ants who mined gold by night ; ^ the land where men lived 
on manna, a substance which we shall find somewhat 
similarly mentioned by Michael Scot and Thomas of 
Cantimpre ; ^ the tale, which we shall also hear from Roger 
Bacon, of men who tame fiying dragons by their incantations 
and magic, saddle and bridle them, and ride them through 
the air ; ^ the five marvelous stones that froze or heated or 
reduced to an even state of temperature or made light or 
dark everything within a radius of five miles; the second 
five stones, of which two were unconsecrated and turned 
water to milk or wine, while three were consecrated and 
would respectively cause fish to congregate, wild beasts to 
follow one, and, sprinkled with hot lion's blooJ, produce a 
conflagration which could only be quenched by sprinkling 
the stone with hot dragon's blood ; '^ the marvelous mill 
operated by the occult virtue of the stone adamant;^ the 

^Zarncke, 918; Digby 158, fol. 
4r; BN 2342, fol. I92r; BN 3359, 
fol. 145V. 

"Zarncke, 919-20; Digby 158, 
fols. 4v-5r; BN 2342, fol. 192V; 
BN 3359, fol. I46r. 

'Zarncke, 920-22; Digby 158 
fol. 5v; BN 2342, fol. 192V; BN 
3359. fol. I46r-v. 

* Zarncke, 911. 

''Ibid., 913. For Michael Scot, 
see Chapter 51, page 324; for 
Thomas of Cantimpre, Chapter 

53. page 393- 

'Zarncke, 913. For Roger Ba- 
con, see Chapter 61, page 657. 

'Zarncke, 915-16. 

*^Ibid, 918-19. 



The letter 
of Pope 
der III. 

the papal 

wonderful tree on which the wonderful healing apple grew ; ^ 
the marvelous chapel of glass, always just big enough for as 
many persons as entered it ; ^ and the stone and the foun- 
tain that served as fireless heaters.^ In another case a 
marvel is wrought by stone and fountain combined. Two 
old men guard a large stone and admit to its hollow only 
Christians or those who desire to become Christians. If 
this profession of faith is genuine, the water in the hollow 
which is usually only four fingers deep thrice rises above 
the head of the person admitted, who thereupon emerges 
recovered from all sickness.^ 

How real Prester John was to the men of the twelfth 
century may be seen from the fact that Pope Alexander III 
on September 2y, 1177, addressed from the Rialto in Venice 
a letter to him or to some actual eastern potentate whom he 
had confused with him.^ The Pope does not expressly men- 
tion Prester John's letter to Manuel but says that he has 
heard of him from many persons and common report, and 
more especially from "Master Philip, our friend and physi- 
cian," who had talked "with great and honourable men of 
your kingdom," by whom he had been informed of their 
ruler's desire for a church and altar at Jerusalem. It is this 
Philip whom the Pope now sends with his letter to Prester 
John and to instruct him in the doctrine of the Roman 
church. But it is a long and laborious journey involving 
many hardships and vicissitudes and the traversing of many 
countries with barbarous and unknown languages. 

Whether Philip ever succeeded in delivering the letter 
is not known and he has himself been regarded as a mys- 
terious personage of whom nothing further was known.® 
I would suggest, however, that, as he seems to have been 
conversant with Syria and the Holy Land, he may have 
been the Philip of whose translation of the Secret of 

^Zarncke, 921. 

'Ibid., 922. 

'Ibid., 923. 

* Ibid., 914. 

'Text of the letter in Zarncke, 


* Zarncke, 945, "Der Philippus, 
den der Papst seinen familiaris 
nennt, ist bis jetzt nicht nach- 


Secrets of the Pseudo-Aristotle we shall treat in the next 
chapter, a work which he found in Antioch and dedicated 
to the bishop of Tripoli. Or, if we do not meet this par- 
ticular Philip again, we sliall find in close relations with 
other popes other physicians whose names are prominent in 
the natural and occult science of the age. 



Alexander and Aristotle — Spurious writings ascribed to Aristotle — 
Aristotle and experiment — Aristotle and alchemy: Meteorology and 
On colors — Works of alchemy ascribed to Aristotle — Aristotle and 
Alexander as alchemists — Aristotle and astrology — Astrology and 
magic in the Theology and De Porno of Aristotle — Liber de causis 
proprietatttm elenientorum et planetarum — Other astrological treatises 
ascribed to Aristotle — Aristotle and 250 volumes of the Indians^ 
Works on astrological images — And on necromantic images — Alexan- 
der as an astrologer — Aristotle and spirits — On plants and the Lapi- 
dary — ^Virtues of gems — Stories of Alexander and of Socrates — Alex- 
ander's submarine — Arabian tales of Alexander — A magic horn — More 
stories of Alexander and gems — Story of Alexander's belt — The royal 
Lapidary of Wenzel II of Bohemia — Chiromancy and Physiognomy of 
Aristotle — The Secret of Secrets — Its textual history — The Latin 
translations of John of Spain and Philip — Philip's preface — Promi- 
nence of occult science — Absence of mysticism — Discussion of king- 
ship — Medical discussion — Astrology — Story of the two boys — Virtues 
of stones and herbs, incantations and amulets — Thirteenth century 
scepticism — Number and alchemy — The poisonous maiden — The Jew 
and the Magus. 

Alexander In a previous chapter we have seen what a wide currency 
rotk"*^*^'^' the legend of Alexander had both in east and west in the 
later Roman Empire and early middle ages, and how with 
Alexander was associated the magician and astrologer 
Nectanebus. We also saw that by about 800 A. D. at least 
a separate Letter of Alexander to Aristotle on the Marvels 
of India was current in the Latin west, and in the present 
chapter it is especially to the Pseudo-Aristotle and his con- 
nection with Alexander and India, rather than to the Pseudo- 
Callisthenes, that we turn. The tremendous historical im- 
portance of the career of Alexander the Great and of the 
writings of Aristotle impressed itself perhaps even unduly 
upon both the Arabian and the medieval mind. The per- 





sonal connection between the two men — Aristotle was for 
a time Alexander's tutor — was seized upon and magnified. 
Pliny in his Natural History had stated that Alexander had 
empowered Aristotle to send two thousand men to different 
parts of the world to test by experience all things on the 
face of the earth.^ This account of their scientific co- 
operation was enlarged upon by spurious writings associated 
with their names like the letter on the marvels of India.^ 
With the introduction into western Europe in the twelfth 
and early thirteenth centuries of many genuine works of 
Aristotle unknown to the early middle ages, which had 
possessed only certain of his logical treatises, there also 
came into circulation a number of spurious writings as- 
cribed to him. 

It is not surprising that many spurious works were 
attributed to Aristotle in the middle ages, when we remem- 
ber that his writings came to them for the most part in- 
directly through corrupt translations, and that some writing 
from so great a master was eagerly looked for upon every 
subject in which they were interested. It seemed to them 
that so encyclopedic a genius must have touched on all 
fields of knowledge and they often failed to realize that in 
Aristotle's time the departments of learning had been some- 
what different from their own and that new interests and 
doctrine had developed since then. There was also a 
tendency to ascribe to Aristotle any work of unknown or 
uncertain authorship. At the close of the twelfth century 
Alexander Neckam ^ lists among historic instances of envy 
Aristotle's holding back from posterity certain of his most 
subtle writings, which he ordered should be buried with 

to Aris- 

^ See Roger Bacon's allusion to 
this passage in F. A. Gasquet, "An 
Unpublished Fragment of a Work 
by Roger Bacon," in EHR, XII 
(1897), p. 502. 

' Ch. Gidel, La Legcnde d' Arts- 
tote au moyen age, in Assoc, des 
Etudes Grecques. (1874), pp. 285- 
332, except for the Pseudo-Callis- 
thenes uses only the French ver- 

nacular literature or popular leg- 
ends concerning Aristotle. Simi- 
lar in scope is W. Hertz, Aris- 
toteles in den Alexanderdichtiingen 
des Mittelalters, in Abhandl. d. 
philos-philol. Classe d. k. bayr. 
Akad.d.Wiss.,XIX (1892) 1-103; 
revised in W. Hertz, Gesammelte 
Abhandlungen, 1905, 1-155. 
' De naturis rerum, II, 1891 



him. At the same time he so guarded the place of his 
sepulcher, whether by some force of nature or power of art 
or prodigy of magic is uncertain, that no one has yet been 
able to approach it, although some think that Antichrist 
will be able to inspect these books when he comes. Roger 
Bacon in the thirteenth century believed that Aristotle had 
written over a thousand works and complained bitterly 
because certain treatises, which were probably really 
apocryphal, had not been translated into Latin.^ Indeed, 
some of the works ascribed to Aristotle in the Oriental and 
Mohammedan worlds were never translated into Latin, such 
as the astrological De impressionibus 'coclestibus which 
Bacon mentions, or the Syriac text which K. Ahrens edited 
in 1892 with a German translation as "Das Buch der 
Naturgegenstande" ; or first appeared in Latin guise after 
the invention of printing, as was the case with the so-called 
Theology of Aristotle,^ a work which was little more than 
a series of extracts from the Enncads of Plotinus.^ Some 
treatises attributed to Aristotle in medieval Latin do not bear 
especially upon our investigation, such as Grammar which 
Grosseteste is said to have translated from Greek.'* 

^ Compendium Studii Philoso- 
phiac, ed. Brewer, (1859), p. 473. 

^ It was translated into Arabic 
about 840 A. D. ; an interpolated 
Latin paraphrase of it was pub- 
lished at Rome in 1519, by Pietro 
Niccolo de' Castellani, — Sapien- 
tissimi Aristotelis Stagiritae 
Theologia sive mistica philoso- 
pbia, secundum Acgyptios noviter 
reperta et in latinam castigatissime 
redacta; a French version ap- 
peared at Paris in 1572 (Carra de 
Vaux, Aviccnnc, p. 74). F. Die- 
terici translated it from Arabic 
into German in 1883, after pub- 
lishing the Arabic text for the 
first time in 1S82. For diver- 
gences between this Arabic text 
and the Latin one of 1519, and 
citation of Baumgartner that the 
Theology was known in Latin 
translation as early as 1200, see 
Grabmann (1916), pp. 245-7. 

' Indeed Carra de Vaux, Avi- 
cenne, p. 73, says, "Tout un livre 
qui ne contient en realite que des 
extraits des Enneades IV a VI 
de Plotin." 

*See Arundel MS 165, 14th 
century. On the general subject 
of the Pseudo-Aristotelian litera- 
ture the reader may consult V. 
Rose, Aristoteles Pseudcpigra- 
phus, and De ordine et auctoritate 
librorum Aristotelis; Munk's ar- 
ticle "Aristote" in La France lit- 
trrairc; Schwab, Bibliographie 
d' Aristote, Paris, 1896; and R. 
Shute, History of the Aristotelian 
Writings, Oxford, 1888 It is. 
however, a difificult subject and 
for the middle ages at least has 
not been satisfactorily investi- 
gated. Grabmann (1916) devotes 
only a page or two of supplement 
to it; see pp. 248-51. A work on 
Aristotle in the middle ages, an- 




For our purposes the Pseudo-Aristotelian writings 
may be sub-divided under seven heads : experiment, 
alchemy, astrology, spirits, occult virtues of stones and 
herbs, chiromancy and physiognomy, and last the famous 
Secret of Secrets. Under the first of these heads may 
be put a treatise on the conduct of waters, which consists 
of a series of experiments in siphoning and the like illus- 
trated in the manuscript by lettered and colored figures and 
diagrams.^ In a Vatican manuscript it is perhaps more 
correctly ascribed to Philo of Byzantium. 

From experiment to alchemy is an easy step, for the 
alchemists experimented a good deal in the period which we 
are now considering. The fourth book of the Meteorology 
of Aristotle, which, if not a genuine portion of that work, 
at least goes back to the third century before Christ," has 
been called a manual of chemistry,^ and apparently is the 
oldest such extant. Its doctrines are also believed to have 
been influential in the development of alchemy; and there 
were passages in this fourth book which led men later to 
regard Aristotle as favorable to the doctrine of the trans- 
mutation of metals. Gerard of Cremona had translated only 
the first three books of the Meteorology; the fourth was 
supplied from a translation from the Greek made by 
Henricus Aristippus who died in 1162; to this fourth 
book were added three chapters translated by Alfred of Eng- 
land or of Sareshel from the Arabic,"* apparently of Avi- 

and ex- 

nounced in 1904 by G. H. Luquel, 
seems not to have appeared. 

* Sloane 2030, fols. 1 10-13. 

* Hammer-Jensen, Das sogen- 
annte IV Buck der Meteorologie 
des Aristoteles, in Hermes, vol. 
50 (191 5) PP- .113-36, argues that 
its teachings differ from those of 
Aristotle and assigns it to Strato, 
his younger contemporary. Not 
content with this thesis, which is 
easier to suggest than to prove, 
Hammer-Jensen contends that it 
was a work of Strato's youth 
and that it profoundly influenced 
Aristotle himself in his last works. 
"The convenient Strato!" as he is 


alchemy : 
ology and 
On colors. 

called by Loveday and Forster 
in the preface to their transla- 
tion of De color ibus (1913) vol. 
VI of The Works of Aristotle 
translated into English under the 
editorship of W. D. Ross. 

'So Hammer-Jensen, p. 113, and 
earlier Heller (1882), I, 61. 

* Niirnberg Stadtbibliothek (cen- 
tur. V, 59, membr. 13th century) — 
cited by Rose, Hermes i, 385. — 
"Completus est liber metheororum 
cuius tres primos libros transtulit 
magister Gerardus Lumbardus 
summus philosophus de arabico in 
latinum. Quartum autem trans- 
tulit Henricus Aristippus de greco 



cenna.^ These additions of Alfred from Avicenna discussed 
the formation of metals but attacked the alchemists.^ Vin- 
cent of Beauvais ^ and Albertus Magnus ^ were both aware, 
however, that this attack upon the alchemists was probably 
not by Aristotle. The short treatise On colors,^ which is in- 
cluded in so many medieval manuscript collections of the 
works of Aristotle in Latin, ^ by its very title would suggest 
to medieval readers that he had been interested in the art of 
alchemy, although its actual contents deal only in small part 
with dyes and tinctures. Its form and contents are not re- 
garded as Aristotle's, but it was perhaps by someone of the 
Peripatetic school. Thus works which, if not by Aristotle 
himself, at least had been written in Greek long before the 
medieval period, gave medieval readers the impression that 
Aristotle was favorable to alchemy. 

in latinum. Tria ultima capitula 
transtulit Aluredus Anglicus sare- 
lensis de arabico in latinum." 

Steinschneider (1893) pp. 59 
and 84; (1905) p. 7; and others, 
including Hammer-Jensen, give 
the name of the translator of the 
fourth book from the Greek as 
Hermann and of the last three 
chapters as Aurelius, whom Stein- 
schneider is more correct in de- 
scribing as "otherwise unknown." 
On the other hand, we know that 
Aristippus and Alfred translated 
other Aristotelian treatises. Evi- 
dently Steinschneider and the 
others have followed MSS where 
the copyist has corrupted the 
proper names. 

^ Steinschneider and Hammer- 
Jensen quote from MSS, "tria 
vero ultima Avicennae capitula 
transtulit Aurelius de arabico in 
latinum." Albertus Magnus, Mi- 
neral, HI, i, 9, also ascribed the 
passage to Avicenna ; others have 
suggested that it is by disciples of 
Avicenna. See J. Wood Brown 
(1897) pp. 72-3, for a similar 
passage from Avicenna's Sermo 
de generatione lapidum. 

' They were printed at Bologna, 
1501, as Liber de mineralibus 
Aristotelis and also published, 

sometimes as Geber's, sometimes 
as Avicenna's, under the title. 
Liber de congelatione. 

BN 16142 contains a Latin 
translation of the four books of 
the Meteorology with an addition 
dealing with minerals and geol- 
ogy which is briefer than the 
printed Liber de mineralibus 
Aristotelis, omitting the passage 
against the alchemists : published 
by F. de Mely, Rev. des Studes 
grecques, (1894), p. 185 et seq. 
(cited Hammer-Jensen, 131). 

^Speculum naturale, VHI, 85. 

* See note i above. 

^ Greek text by Prantl, Teubner, 
1881 ; English translation by Love- 
day and Forster, 1913. See also 
Prantl, Aristoteles iiber die Far- 
ben. 1849. 

* Just a few examples are : Ma- 
zarine 3458 and 3459, 13th cen- 
tury; 3460 and 3461, 14th century; 
Arsenal 748A, 15th century, fol. 
185 ; BN 6325, 14th century, ti ; 
BN 14719, I4-I5th century, fol. 
38-; BN 14717, end 13th century; 
BN 16633. 13th century, fol. 102- ; 
S. Marco X, 57, 13th century, 
beautifully illuminated, fols. 312- 
17; Assisi 283, 14th century, fol. 
289-; Volterra 19, 14th century, 
fol. 196-. 




It is therefore not surprising that works of alchemy ap- Works of 

peared in medieval Latin under Aristotle's name. The 
names of Plato and Aristotle had headed the lists of alchem- 
ists in Greek manuscripts although no works ascribed to 
Aristotle have been preserved in the same.^ Berthelot, how- 
ever, speaks of a pseudo-Aristotle in Arabic,^ and in an Ox- 
ford manuscript of the thirteenth century under the name 
of Aristotle appears a treatise On the tzvelve zva-ters of the 
secret riz'er said to be "translated from Arabic into Latin." ' 
In the preface the author promises that whoever becomes 
skilled, adept, and expert in these twelve waters will never 
lose hope nor be depressed by want. He regards this treatise 
as the chief among his works, since he has learned these wa- 
ters by experiment. They are all chemical rather than 
medical; a brief "chapter" or paragraph is devoted to each. 
In another manuscript at the Bodleian two brief tracts are 
ascribed to Aristotle; one describes the seven metals, the 
other deals with transmutation.* In a single manuscript at 
Munich both a theoretical treatise in medicine and alchemy 
and a Practica are attributed to Aristotle, and in two other 
manuscripts he is credited with the Book of Seventy Pre- 
cepts which sometimes is ascribed to Geber.^ Thomas of 

"Berthelot (1885) p. 143, "Pla- 
ten et Aristote sent mis en tete 
de la liste des alchimistes oecu- 
meniques sans qu' aucun ouvrage 
leur soit assigne." 

"Berthelot (1888) I, 76; citing 
Manget, Bibl. Chemica, I, 622. 

* Digby 162, 13th century, fols. 
lov-iiv, "Incipit liber Aristotelis 
de aquis secreti fluminis transla- 
tus ab arabico in latinum." In 
the margin the twelve waters are 
briefly designated : i ruhictinda, 
2 penctrativa, 3 mollificativa, et 
ingrediente, 4 de aqua eiusdem 
ponderis et magnitudinis, 5 ignita, 
6 sulphurea, 7 aqua cineris, 8 
aurea, etc. In one or two cases, 
however, these heads do not quite 
apply to the corresponding chap- 

*Ashmole 1448, 15th century, 
pp. 200-202, de "altitudinibus, pro- 

fundis, lateribusque" metallorum 
secundum Aristotelem (name in 
the margin). It opens, "Plum- 
bum est in altitudine sua ar. 
nigrum." It takes up in turn the 
altitudo of each metal and then 
discusses the next quality in the 
same way. 

Ibid., pp. 239-44, opens, "Ares- 
totilus. Cum studii, etc. Scias 
preterea quod propter longitudi- 
nes" ; at p. 241 it treats "de puri- 
ficatione solis et lune" (i.e., gold 
and silver) ; at p. 243, "de sepa- 
ratione solis et lune." It ends 
with a paragraph about the com- 
position of a golden seal. 

*CLM 12026, 15th century, fol. 
46-, "Alchymia est ars docens. . . . 
/ . . . Explicit dicto libri (,sic) 
Aristotelis de theorica in rebus 
naturalibus" ; fol. 78, Liber Aris- 
totelis de practica summae philoso- 

to Aris- 



and Alex- 
ander as 

Cantimpre cites Aristotle in the Lumen luminum as saying 
that the best gold is made from yellow copper ore and the 
urine of a boy, but Thomas hastens to add that such gold is 
best in color rather than in substance.^ The translation of 
the Lumen luniinimi is ascribed both to Michael Scot and 
brother Elias.- Aristotle is quoted several times in De al- 
chimia, ascribed to Albertus Magnus, but only in the later 
"Additions" to it, where Roger Bacon also is cited, is the 
specific title Liber de perfecto magisterio given as Aris- 
totle's.^ Sometimes works of alchemy were very carelessly 
ascribed to Aristotle, when it is perfectly evident from the 
works themselves that they could not have been written by 

The alchemical discoveries and writings ascribed to Aris- 
totle are often associated in some way with Alexander the 
Great as well. In one manuscript John of Spain's transla- 
tion of the Secret of Secrets is followed by a description of 
the virtues and compositions of four stones "which Aris- 
totle sent to Alexander the Great." ^ It seems obvious that 
these are philosopher's stones and not natural gems. The 
Liher ignium of Marcus Grecus, composed in the thirteenth 
or early fourteenth century, ascribes to Aristotle the discov- 
ery of two marvelous kinds of fires. One, which he dis- 
covered while traveling with Alexander the king, will burn 
for a year without cessation. The other, in the composition 
of which observance of the dog-days is requisite, "Aristotle 

phiae, "Primo de separatione salis 
communis. . . ." 

CLM 25 1 10, 15th century, fols. 
211-45, Liber Aristotelis de 70 

CLM 25 1 13, i6th century, fols. 
10-28, A. de alchimia liber qui 
dicitur de 70 preceptis. 

^ Egerton 1984, fol. 14IV; in the 
De natura rerum. 

'See Chapter 51 on Michael 
Scot, near the close. 

* Caps. 22 and 57. It was print- 
ed with further "Additions" of 
its own in 1561 in Verae alchemiae 
artisque metallicae citra aenigma- 
ta, Basel, 1561, II, 188-225. 

■* Thus in Auriferae artis quam 
chemiam vocant antiqiiisstmi au- 
thores, Basel, 1572, pp. 387-99. 
a treatise which cites Morienus, 
Rasis, and Avicenna is printed 
as Tractatulus Aristotelis de 
Practica lapidis philosophici. Ap- 
parently the only reason for as- 
cribing it to Aristotle is that it 
cites "the philosopher" in its 
opening sentence, "Cum omne 
corpus secundum philosophum aut 
est elementum aut ab dementis 

"Laud. Misc. 708, 15th century, 
fol. 54- 



asserts will last for nine years." ^ A collection of chemical 
experiments by a Nicholas, of whom we shall have more to 
say in a later chapter, gives "a fire which Aristotle discov- 
ered with Alexander for obscure places." ^ A letter of 
Aristode to Alexander in a collection of alchemical tracts 
is hardly worth noting, as it is only seven lines long, but it 
is interesting to observe that it cites Aristotle's Meteorol- 
ogy.^ Perhaps by a mistake one or two alchemical trea- 
tises are ascribed to Alexander rather than Aristotle.^ 

Aristotle's genuine works give even more encourage- 
ment to the pretensions of astrology than to those of al- 
chemy. His opinion that the four elements were insuffi- 
cient to explain natural phenomena and his theory of a fifth 
essence were favorable to the belief in occult virtue and the 
influence of the stars upon inferior objects. In his work on 

• Berthelot 

' Ashmole 
p. 123. 


(1893), I. 
1448, 15th 

105 and 

1450, isth 
fol. 8, "Epistola ad Alexandrum. 
O Alexander rector hominum . . . 
/ . . . et audientes non intelli- 

Harleian 3703, 14th century, 
fols. 4ir-42r, Aristoteles ad alex- 
andrum. "In primo o elaxandor 
tradere tibi volo secretorum maxi- 
mum secretum . . .," is a similar 

* Ashmole 1384, mid 14th cen- 
tury, fols. 9iv-93r, "Incipit Episto- 
la Allexandri. Dicunt philosophi 
quod ars dirivata sit ex creatione 
hominis cui omnia insunt . . . / 
... ex omni specie et colore 
nomine. Explicit epistola Alexan- 
dri." In the text itself, which is 
written in the manner of a master 
to a disciple, there is nothing to 
show that the work is by Alexan- 
der rather than Aristotle. 

The following is apparently the 
same treatise but the closing words 
are different. 

Riccard. 1165. 15th century, fols. 
i6r-3, Liber Alexandri in scientia 
secretorum nature. "Dicitur quod 
hec ars derivata sit ex creacione 

hominis cui omnia insunt . . . / 
. . . et deo annuente ad optatum 
finem pervenies." 

The next would seem to be 
another treatise than the fore- 

Arezzo 2^2, 15th century, fols 
1-14, "Liber transmissus ab Alex- 
andre rege ex libro Hermogenis." 

Hermogenes, who is cited on 
the subject of the philosopher's 
stone in at least one MS of the 
Secret of Secrets (Bodleian 67, 
fol. :^i\, "Et pater noster Her- 
mogenes qui triplex est in philo- 
sophia optime philosophando dix- 
it"), is apparently none other than 
Hermes Trismegistus. He is also 
mentioned in a brief work of 
Aristotle to Alexander; Har- 
leian 3703, 14th century, fols. 41 r- 
42r," . . . hermogenes quod {sic) 
egypti multum commendunt et 
laudant et sibi attribuant omnem 
scientiam secretam et celerem 
(?)." The use of the reflexive 
pronoun in this sentence to refer 
to Hermogenes I would have the 
reader note, as it appears to illus- 
trate a fairly common medieval 
usage which has or will lead me 
to alter the translations which 
have been proposed for certain 
other passages. 






and magic 
in the 
and De 
porno of 

generation ^ he held that the elements alone were mere tools 
without a workman; the missing agent is supplied by the 
revolution of the heavens. In the twelfth book of the 
Metaphysics he described the stars and planets as eternal 
and acting as intermediaries between the prime Mover and 
inferior beings. Thus they are the direct causes of all life 
and action in our world. Charles Jourdain regarded the 
introduction of the Metaphysics into western Europe at the 
opening of the thirteenth century as a principal cause for the 
great prevalence of astrology from that time on, the other 
main cause being the translation of Arabian astrological 
treatises.^ Jourdain did not duly appreciate the great hold 
which astrology already had in the twelfth century, but it is 
nevertheless true that in the new Aristotle astrology found 
further support. 

Astrology crops out here and there in most of the spuri- 
ous works extant under Aristotle's name, just as it does in 
medieval learning everywhere. One section of a dozen 
pages in the Theology discusses the influence of the stars 
upon nature and the working of magic by making use of 
these celestial forces and the natural attraction which things 
have for one another. It regards artificial magic as a fraud 
but natural and astrological magic as a reality. However, 
as in the original text of Plotinus which the Theology fol- 
lows, it is only the animal soul which is affected by magic 
and the man of impulse who is moved thereby; the thinking 
man can free himself from its influence by use of the rational 
soul. In the treatise, De porno ^ which seems not to have been 
translated into Latin until the thirteenth century under Man-, 
fred,^ Aristotle on his death bed, holding in his hand an 

'II, 9. 

* Excursions historiques, etc., p. 

* I have read it in an incunabu- 
lum edition numbered lA. 49867 
in the British Museum. 

* Ibid., fols. 2iv-22r, "Nos Man- 
fredus divi augusti imperatoris 
frederici filius dei gratia princeps 
tharentinus honoris montis sarcti 

angeli dominus et illustris regis 
conradi servi in regno sicilie 
baiulus . . . quern librum cum 
non inveniretur inter cristianos, 
quoniam eum in ebrayco legimus 
translatum de arabico in hebreum, 
sanitate rehabita ad eruditionem 
multorum et de hebrea lingua 
transtulimus in latinam in quo a 
compilatore quedam recitabilia in- 



apple from which the treatise takes its title, is represented 
as telling his disciples why a philosopher need not fear death 
and repudiating the doctrines of the mortality of the soul 
and eternity of the universe. He also tells how the Creator 
made the spheres and placed lucid stars in each and gave 
them the virtue of ruling over this inferior world and caus- 
ing good and evil and life or death. They do not, however, 
do this of themselves, but men at first thought so and 
erroneously worshiped the stars until the time of Noah who 
was the first to recognize the Creator of the spheres.^ 

There are also attributed to Aristotle treatises primarily 
astrological. A "Book on the Properties of the Elements 
and of the Planets" is cited under his name by Peter of 
Abano at the end of the thirteenth century in his work on 
poisons,^ by Peter d'Ailly in his Vigintiloquium ^ written 
in 1414, and by Pico della Mirandola, who declares it spuri- 
ous, in his work against astrology written at the close of 
the fifteenth century. D'Ailly and Pico cite it in regard to 
the theory of great conjunctions ; Abano, for a tale of Soc- 
rates and two dragons which we shall repeat later. It is 
probable that all these citations were from the paraphrase 
of and commentary on the work by Albertus Magnus ■* who 
accepted it as a genuine writing of Aristotle. We shall con- 
sider its contents in our chapter upon Albertus Magnus. 

In a manuscript of the Cotton collection in the British 
Museum is a work of some length upon astrology ascribed to 
Aristotle.^ After a discussion of general principles in which 
the planets, signs, and houses are treated, there are separate 
books upon the subjects of nativities,^ and of elections and 

seruntur. Nam dictum librum aris- 
totiles non notavit sed notatus ab 
aliis extitit qui causam hylaritatis 
sue mortis discere voluerunt sicut 
in libri serie continetur." 

* Edition No. lA. 49867 in the 
British Museum, fols. 25v-26r. 

* Cap. 4. 

' Verbum 4. 

*Dc causis et proprietatihus 
elementorum, IX, 585-653 in Bor- 
gnet's edition of Albert's works ; 

Albert himself in his treatise on 
Minerals cites the title as "Liber 
dc causis proprictatum elemen- 
toruin et planctaruvi." 

"Cotton Appendix VI, fol. Br, 
"liber iste est aristotelis in scien- 
tia ipsius astronomie." 

*Fol. I IV, "Alius liber de na- 
tivitatibus" ; opens, "Superius 
prout potuimus promissorum par- 
tem explevimus." 

Liber de 
tutn ele- 
et planc- 

cal trea- 
to Aris- 



and two 
and fifty 
of the 

interrogations.^ In a Paris manuscript a treatise on inter- 
rogations is ascribed in a marginal heading to "Aristoteles 
Milesius, a Peripatetic physician." - In the Cotton Manu- 
script in commentaries which then follow, and which are 
labelled as commentaries "upon the preceding treatise" 
Ptolemy is mentioned rather than Aristotle.^ In an astro- 
logical manuscript of the fifteenth century at Grenoble writ- 
ten in French, works of Messahala and Zael translated for 
Charles V of France are preceded by "a book of judicial 
astrology according to Aristotle," which opens with "the 
preface of the last translator," and is in four parts.^ Per- 
haps both the above-mentioned manuscripts contain, like a 
third manuscript at Munich, "The book of judgments which 
is said by Albert in his Speculum to be Aristotle's." ^ This 
work also occurs in a manuscript at Erfurt.^ Roger Bacon 
was much impressed by an astrological treatise ascribed to 
Aristotle entitled De impressionibus coelestihiis, and told 
Pope Clement IV that it was "superior to the entire philoso- 
phy of the Latins and can be translated by your order." '^ 

A treatise found in two manuscripts of the Bodleian 
Library bears the titles, Commentary of Aristotle on As- 
trology, and The hook of Aristotle from two hundred and 
fifty-five volumes of the Indians, containing a digest of all 
problems, whether pertaining to the sphere or to genethli- 

* Fol. I3r, "De electionibus alius 
liber" ; opens, "Unde constella- 
tionibus egyptios imitantes nativi- 
tates satis dilucide dixerimus." 
This book intermingles the sub- 
jects of interrogations and elec- 
tions, and ends at fpl. 20v, "Finit 
liber de interrogationibus." 

'BN 16208, fol. 76r-, "liber 
arystotelis milesii medici pery- 
pathetici in principiis iudiciorum 
astronomorum in interrogationi- 

' Cotton Appendix VI, fol. 20v, 
"Incipit commentum super prae- 
missa scilicet praedictum librum" ; 
fol. 23V, "Expositio ad litteram 
superioris tractatus. Ptolomaeus 
summus philosophus et excellen- 

tissimus egyptiorum rex. . . ." 

* Grenoble 814, fols. 1-24. "Cy 
commence le livre de jugemens 
d'astrologie selon Aristote. Le 
prologue du derrenier translateur. 
Aristote fist un livre de juge- 
mens. . . ." 

"CLM 25010, i5-i6th century, 
fols. 1-12, "liber de iudiciis qui ab 
Alberto in Speculo suo dicitur esse 

' Amplon. Quarto 377, 14th cen- 
tury, fols. 25-36, de iudiciis as- 
trorum. Sebum identifies it with 
the work ascribed to Aristotle by 
Albert in the Sfecuhim astro- 

'Bridges (1897), I, 389-90; 
Brewer (1859) p. 473. 




aioqy} From the text itself and the preface of Hugo Sanc- 
telliensis, the twelfth century translator from Arabic into 
Latin, addressed to his lord, Michael, bishop of Tarazona, 
we see that the work is neither entirely by Aristotle nor from 
the books of the Indians but is a compilation by someone who 
draws or pretends to draw from some 250 or 255 books ^ 
of the philosophers, including in addition to treatises by 
both Aristotle and the Indians, 13 books by Hermes, 13 by 
Doronius (Dorotheus?), 4 by Ptolemy, one by Democritus, 
two by Plato, 44 by the Babylonians, 7 by Antiochus, and 
others by authors whose names are unfamiliar to me and 
probably misspelled in the manuscripts. In one of the 
works of Aristotle of which the present work is supposed 
to make use, there are said to have been described the na- 
tivities of twelve thousand men, collected in an effort to es- 
tablish an experimental basis for astrology.^ It is not so 
surprising that the present work bears Aristotle's name, since 
Hugh had promised his patron Michael, in the prologue to 
his translation of the Geometry of Hanus ben Hanne,* that 
if life endured and opportunity was given he would next 
set to work as ordered by his patron, not only upon Haly's 
commentaries on the Quadripartite and Almagest of Ptol- 
emy, but also upon a certain general commentary by Aris- 
totle on the entire art of astrology. 

The Secret of Secrets of the Pseudo-Aristotle is immedi- 
ately followed in one manuscript by chapters or treatises ad- 
dressed to Alexander and entitled. Of ideas and forms, Of 
the impression of fortns, and Of images and rings.^ The 

Works on 
cal imasres. 

*Digby 159, 14th century, fpls. 
1-87, mutilated at the end. "Liber 
Aristotilis de ducentis Ivque In- 
dorum voluminibus, universalium 
questionum tarn genecialium quam 
circularium summam continens." 
At fol. 5v, "Explicit prologus. In- 
cipit Aristotelis commentum in 
astrologiam." This is the MS 
which I have chiefly followed. 

Savile Latin 15 (Bernard 6561), 
15th century, fols. 185-204V, is 

' In the text the number is 
given as ccl ; see Digby 159, fol. 

' Digby 159, fol. 2T. 

* Savile 15, fol. 205r. 

° Bodleian 67 (Bernard 2136), 
14th century, fol. 54r, De ydeis et 
formis; fol. S4v, De imprcssione 
formaruni; fol. 56V, De ymagini- 
bus et annulis. These chapters are 
sometimes included in the Secret 
of Secrets, as in Roger Bacon's 
version; Steele (1920) 157-63. But 


theory, very like that of Alkindi, is maintained that "all 
forms are ruled by supercelestial forms through the spirits 
of the spheres" and that incantations and images receive 
their force from the spheres. The seven planets pass on 
these supercelestial ideas and forms to our inferior world. 
By selecting proper times for operating one can work good 
or ill by means of the rays and impressions of the planets. 
The scientific investigator who properly concentrates and 
fixes intent, desire, and appetite upon the desired goal can 
penetrate hidden secrets of secrets and occult science both 
universal and particular. The writer goes on to emphasize 
the importance of understanding all the different positions 
and relationships of the heavenly bodies and also the dis- 
tribution of terrestrial objects under the planets. He then 
describes an astrological image which will cause men to rev- 
erence and obey you, will repel your enemies in terror, af- 
flict the envious, send visions, and perform other marvel- 
ous and stupefying feats too numerous to mention. 

And on As the Specidum astronomiae of Albertus Magnus listed 

necroman- „,rrr ia-i i • ir 

tic images, a Book of Judgments by Aristotle among deservmg works of 

astronomy and astrology, so in its list of evil books dealing 
with necromantic images appear a treatise by Hermes ad- 
dressed to Aristotle and opening, "Aristotle said, 'You have 
seen me, O Hermes,' " and a treatise ascribed to Aristotle 
with the sinister title, Death of the Soul, opening, "Said 
Aristotle to King Alexander, Tf you want to perceive.' " 
This treatise the Speculum calls "the worst of all" the evil 
books on images. Roger Bacon, too, alludes to it by title as 
filled with figments of the magicians, but does not name 
Aristotle as author.^ Peter of Abano in his Lucidator fol- 
lows the Specultmt astronomiae in listing it among depraved, 
obscene, and detestable works.^ 

"in the greater part of the Latin cretis, cap. 3. 

MSS this section is entirely * BN 2598, fol. loir, "liber quern 

omitted" ; Ibid., Ixii. Steele does Aristoteles attribuit Alexandre et 

not mention Bodleian 67. quem nonnulli mortis intitulent 

* Brewer (1859) p. 532, De se- anime." 




Alexander himself, as well as Aristotle, had some me- Alexander 
dieval reputation as an astrologer. We have already seen ^ astrologer, 
in the tenth and eleventh century manuscripts of the Mathe- 
matica of Alhandreus, supreme astrologer, that "Alexander 
of Macedon" was more than once cited as an authority, and 
that there were also given "Excerpts from the books of 
Alexander, astrologer, king," and a "Letter of Argafalan to 
Alexander." Different from this, moreover, was the 
Mathematica of Alexander, supreme astrologer, found in a 
thirteenth century manuscript, in which from the movements 
of the planets through the signs one is instructed how to 
foretell prosperous and adverse journeys, abundance and 
poverty, misfortune or death of a friend, or to discover 
stolen articles, sorceries, buried treasure and so forth.- A 
treatise on seven herbs related to the seven planets is some- 
times ascribed to Alexander,^ but perhaps more often to 
Flaccus Africanus, as we saw in Chapter 46, and at least 
once to Aristotle.* 

The association of astrological images with spirits of Aristotle 
the spheres in one of the above-mentioned works ascribed ^pij-its. 
to Aristotle has already brought us to the border-line of 
our next topic, Aristotle and spirits. Under this caption 
may be placed a work found in a fifteenth century manu- 

' See above, I, 7i3-7i4- 

"Ashmole 369, late 13th cen- 
tury, fols. 77-84V, "Mathematica 
Alexandri summi astrologi. In 
exordio omnis creature herus 
huranicus inter cuncta sidera xii 
maluit signa fore / nam quod 
lineam designat eandem stellam 
occupat. Explicit." Cap. x, de 
inveniendo de prospero aut ad- 
verso itinere ; xi, de copia et pau- 
pertate ; xiv, de nece aut casu 
amici; xvi, de latrocinio invenien- 
do ; xxiv, de pecunia in terra de- 
fossa; xxxviii, de noscendis male- 

' In the preface to the Kiran- 
ides ; in Montpellier 277, 15th cen- 
tury ; and in Ashmole 1448, 15th 
century, pp. 44-45, "Virtutes y 

herbarum a septem planetis se- 
cundum Alexandrum Imperato- 
rem." It is also embodied in some 
editions and MSS of the Liber 
aggregationis or Experimenta at- 
tributed to Albertus Magnus (see 
Chapter 62), where it is entitled, 
"Virtutes herbarum septem se- 
cundum Alexandrum Imperato- 

* Ashmole 1741, late 14th cen- 
tury, fol. 143, "Incipiunt virtutes 
septem herbarum Aristotilis. Et 
has quidem virtutes habent ipse 
septem herbe ab influentia 7 plane- 
tarum. Nam contingit unam- 
quamque recipere virtutem suam 
a superioribus naturaliter. Nam 
dicit Aristotiles quod corpora in- 
feriora reguntur per superiora." 


script.^ It also is in part astrological and is associated with 
the name of Hermes as well as of Aristotle. Its title runs, 
The book of the spiritual works of Aristotle, or the book 
Antimaquis, which is the book of the secrets of Hermes: 
wonderful things can be accomplished by means of this book 
and 'tis the ancient book of the seven planets. The treatise 
opens, "To every people and clime pertains a group of 
spirits." It then maps out these regions of different spirits 
in accordance with the planets and signs of the zodiac. 
Apparently this is the same work as that which Hunain ibn 
Ishak translated into Arabic and of which he says, "Among 
the works of Aristotle which we have found and translated 
from Greek into Arabic was The book of the Causes of 
Spirituals which has Hermes for author. ... It is the book 
in which Aristotle treats of the causes of spirituals, talis- 
mans, the art of their operation, and how to hinder it, or- 
dered after the seven climates."^ It was probably some 
such spurious work that William of Auvergne had in mind 
when he spoke of Aristotle's boast that a spirit had de- 
scended unto him from the sphere of Venus. ^ 
On No genuine work of Aristotle on vegetables or minerals 

ar^dthe ^^^^ come down to us to accompany his celebrated History 
Lapidary, of Animals, but supposititious writings were soon found by 
the Arabs to fill this gap. On plants a brief treatise by 
Nicolaus Damascenus passed for Aristotle's. Alfred of 
Sarchel translated it from Arabic into Latin,"* presumably 
before the close of the twelfth century, since he dedicated it 
to Roger of Hereford, and Albertus Magnus expanded its 
two short books into seven long ones in his De vegetabilibus 
et plantis. There also existed in Arabic a Lapidary as- 
cribed to Aristotle,^ which we have heard cited in the ninth 

^ Sloane 3854, 15th century, fols. seven planets, Venus, and the 

105V-110. moon mentioned in our chapter 

' L. Blochet, Etudes sur le Gnos- on the Hermetic books. 

ticisme musulman. in Rivista degli * One MS is Harleian 3487, 14th 

studi orientali, IV, 76. century, Jii. 

^ De universo, II, ii, 39 and 98; 'V. Rose, Aristoteles de lapidi- 

II, iii, 6. I presume that there bus und Arnoldus Saxo, in Zeit- 

is some connection between our schrift fiir deutsches Alterthutn, 

present treatise and those on the X'^''TII (1875) 3^1 et scq. More 


century by Costa ben Luca. Ruska believes the work to be 
of Syrian and Persian origin/ although one Latin text pro- 
fesses to have been originally translated from Greek into 
Syriac.^ Valentin Rose regarded it as the basis of all sub- 
sequent Arabic mineralog\% but found only two Latin manu- 
scripts of it.^ Albertus Magnus in his Minerals confesses 
that, although he had sought diligently in divers regions 
of the world, he had seen only excerpts from Aristotle's 
work. But another writer of the thirteenth century, Arnold 
of Saxony, cites translations of Aristotle on stones both 
by Dioscorides, which would seem sheer nonsense, and by 
Gerard, presumably of Cremona. Gerard's translation oc- 
curs in one of Rose's manuscripts ; the other seems to give 
a version translated from the Hebrew. 

In Gerard's translation, a work marked by puerile Latin Virtues 
style, the Lapidary of Aristotle is about equally devoted to 
marvelous properties of stones and tales of Alexander the 
Great. After some general discussion of stones and their 
wonderful properties, particular gems are taken up. The 
gesha brings misfortune. Its wearer sleeps poorly, has many 
worries, many altercations and law-suits. If it is hung 
about a boy's neck, it makes him drivel. "There is great 
occult force" in the magnet, and instructions are given how 
to set water on fire with it. Several stones possess the 
property of neutralizing spells and counteracting the work 
of demons. With another stone the Indians make many 

recently the Lapidary of Aristotle fol. 127- ; printed by Rose (1875) 

has been edited by J. Ruska, Das pp. 384-97. 

Steinbuch dcs Aristotelcs . . . nach The following treatises, also as- 

der arabischen Handschrift, Hei- cribed to Aristotle, I have not ex- 

delberg, 1912, who gives both the amined : Sloane 2459, 15th cen- 

Latin of the Liege MS and the tury, fols. 9V-16, de proprietatibus 

text of the translation into Arabic herbarum et lapidum; Vienna 2301, 

by Luca ben Serapion from BN 15th century, fols. 81-2, "Isti sunt 

2jy2, with a German translation lapides quorum virtutes misit 

of it. Aristotiles in scriptis maximo im- 

^ Ruska (1912), p. 43. peratori Alexandre." Perhaps the 

' Ibid., p. 183, "Et ego transf ero last may have reference to philoso- 

ipsum ex greco sermone in pher's stones, like the similar 

ydyoma su(r)orum vel Syrorum." treatise of Aristotle to Alexander 

* Liege 77, 14th century ; print- noted above in our discussion of 

ed by Rose (1875) pp. 349-82. the pseudo-Aristotelian alchemical 

Montpellier 277, 15th century, treatises. 


incantations. Vultures were the first to discover the virtue 
of the stone filcrum coarton in hastening dehvery. When 
a female vulture was near death from the eggs hardening 
in her body, the male flew off to India and brought back 
this stone which afforded instant relief. Another stone is 
so soporific that suspended about the neck it induces a sleep 
lasting three days and nights, and the effects of which are 
thrown off with difficulty even on the fourth day, when the 
sleeper will awake but will act as if he were intoxicated 
and will still seem sleepier than anyone else. Another stone 
prevents a horse from whinnying, if suspended from his 
Stories of Other gems suggest stories of Alexander. Near the 

and^of frontier of India in a valley guarded by deadly serpents 
Socrates, whose mere glance was fatal were many precious gems. 
Alexander disposed of the serpents by erecting mirrors in 
which they might stare themselves to death, and he then 
secured the gems by employing the carcasses of sheep in 
the manner which we have already heard described by Epi- 
phanius.'^ A somewhat similar tale is told of Socrates by 
Albertus Magnus in his commentary on the pseudo-Aris- 
totelian work on the properties of the elements and planets.^ 
In the reign of Philip of Macedon, who is himself described 
as a philosopher and astronomer, the road between two 
mountains in Armenia became so poisoned that no one could 
pass. Philip vainly inquired the cause from his sages until 
Socrates came to the rescue and, by erecting a tower as 
high as the mountains with a steel mirror on top of it, saw 
two dragons polluting the air. The mere glance of these 
dragons was apparently not deadly, for men in air-tight 
armor went in and killed them. The same story is told by 
William of St. Cloud, who composed astronomical tables 
based upon his own observations from about 1285 to 1321, 
in which he detected errors in the earlier tables of Thebit, 
Toulouse, and Toledo.' In Peter of Abano's treatise on 

* See above chapter 21, I, 496. II, ii, i (Borgnet, IX 643). 
' De causis elementorum, etc., * HL XXV, 65, 


ixjisons/ however, although he too cites the Pseudo- Aristotle 
On the causes of the elements, the mirror has become a glass 
cave in which Socrates ensconces himself to observe the 
serpents. A Lapidary dedicated to King Wenzel II of Bo- 
hemia tells of Socrates' killing a dragon by use of quick- 
silver.- That Socrates also shared the medieval reputation 
of Aristotle and Plato for astrology and divination we have 
already seen from the Prenostica Socratis Basilei. 

Similar to Abano's tale of Socrates in the glass cave is Alex- 
the story told a century earlier by Alexander Neckam of ^"der's 
Alexander himself. So sedulous an investigator of nature marine, 
was the Macedonian, says Neckam, that he went down in a 
glass vessel to observe the natures and customs of the fishes. 
He would seem to have remained submerged for some time, 
since Neckam informs us that he took a cock with him in 
order to tell when it was dawn by the bird's crowing. This 
primitive submarine had at least a suggestion of war about 
it, since Neckam goes on to say that Alexander learned how 
to lay ambushes against the foe by observing one army of 
fishes attack another. Unfortunately, however, Alexander 
failed to commit to writing his observations, whether mili- 
tary or scientific, of deep-sea hfe; and Neckam grieves that 
very few data on the natures of fishes have come to his at- 
tention.^ We shall hear Roger Bacon tell of Alexander's 
descending to see the secrets of the deep on the authority of 

^ De venenis, cap. 5, probably Des nefs ke sont apelces colifas: a 

written in 1316, but see chapter 70, similar ship in the water, no one 

appendix vi. _ visible in it; Coment Alisandre 

' Aristotle, Lapidarius et Liber encercha la nature de pessons; 

de physionoviia, Merseburg, 1473, Alexander and two men in the 

p. 8. ship, fish and mermaid below." 

^ De natiiris rerum, II, 21. In I have quoted James' description 

an illustrated 13th century MS of of the MS (III, 488). 

the vernacular Romance of Alex- See also Lacroix, Science and 

ander three pictures are devoted Literature in tlie Middle Ages, 

to his submarine. CU Trinity 1878, Fig. 87, p. 119, for Alexander 

1446, 1250 A. D., fol. 27r, "Co- descending to the bottom of the 

ment Alisandre vesqui sue les sea in a glass cask, from a thir- 

ezves: a covered ship with win- teenth century MS, Brussels 11040. 

dows under green water, Alexan- ' See chapter 61, pp. 654-5, 
der and three men in it ; fol. 27V, 



tales of 

A magic 

Neckam's account differs a good deal from the story as 
told by the Arabian historian, Mas'udi, in the tenth century. 
There we read that, when Alexander was building the city 
of Alexandria, monsters came from the sea every night and 
overthrew the walls that had been built during the day. 
Night watchmen proved of no avail, so Alexander had a 
box made ten cubits long and five wide, with glass sides fas- 
tened into the frame work by means of pitch and resin. He 
then entered the box with two draughtsmen, who, after it 
had been let down to the bottom of the sea, made exact draw- 
ings of the monsters, who had human bodies but the heads 
of beasts. From these sketches Alexander had images con- 
structed and placed on pillars, and these magic figures served 
to keep off the monsters until the city was completed. But 
the effect apparently began to wear off and talismans had 
to be added on the pillars to prevent the monsters from 
coming and devouring the inhabitants, as they had begun 
to do again. ^ Another Arab, Abu-Shaker, of the thirteenth 
century, repeats a current tradition that Aristotle gave Alex- 
ander a box of wax soldiers which were nailed, with in- 
verted spears and swords and severed bow-strings, face- 
downwards in the box, which in its turn was fastened by a 
chain. As long as the box remained in Alexander's pos- 
session and he repeated the formulae which Aristotle ta.ught 
him whenever he took the box up or put it down, he would 
triumph over his foes in war.^ This reminds one of the 
methods of warfare employed by Alexander's fabled natu- 
ral father, Nectanebus, 

While we are speaking of military matters, it may be 
noted that in a manuscript of the thirteenth century which 
once belonged to an Albertus Bohemus or Beham, dean of 
the church at Padua, and seems to have been his note-book, 
we find between the Secret of Secrets of the Pseudo-Aris- 
totle and a treatise on the significations of the moon in the 
signs "a delineation of a brazen horn made with marvelous 

'Budge, Egyptian Magic, 1899, de Courteille, 1861, II, 425ff. 
pp. 152-6; Mas'udi, Les Prairies * Budge (1899), pp. 95-6. 
d'Or. ed. B. de Maynard and Pavet 




stories of 

art by which Alexander in time of war summoned his army 
from a distance of sixty miles." ^ Such a horn "of Temis- 
tius" is mentioned in some versions of the Secret of Secrets.'^ 

But to return to other tales of Alexander in the Lapidary. 
Once he saw afar enchanters and enchantresses who slew 
and wounded the men of his army by their diabolical power and gems 
until Alexander prayed to God, who revealed two stones 
which counteracted the sorcery. On another occasion when 
by Alexander's order his barons had carried off certain gems, 
during the night following they suffered much insult from 
demons and were sore afraid, since sticks and stones were 
thrown about the camp by unseen hands and men were 
beaten without knowing whence the blows came. It thus 
became apparent that the demons cherished those gems as 
their especial property and were accustomed to perform oc- 
cult operations with them of which they did not wish men 
to learn the secret. Alexander found that these gems would 
protect him from any beast, serpent, or demon, although the 
nocturnal experience of his barons would scarcely seem to 
support this last point. On a third occasion his troops were 
held motionless and gazed open-mouthed at certain stones, 
until a bird fluttered down and covered the gems with its 
outstretched wings. Then Alexander had his followers close 
their eyes and carry the stones away under cover and place 
them on top of the wall of one of his cities so that no one 
might scale the wall to spy upon the town. 

Yet another curious story of Alexander and a stone is 
repeated by Peter of Abano in his work on poisons ^ from 
a treatise "On the Nature of Serpents" which he ascribes 
to Aristotle. Alexander always wore a certain stone in 
his belt to give him good luck in his battles, but on his re- 
turn from India, while bathing in the Euphrates, he re- 

* CLM 2574b, bombyc. 13th cen- picted (reproduced in plate 151 of 
tury, fol. 69V. Although Steel© the Roxburghe Club publication of 

1914). There are drawings 

of Alex 

(1920) p. Iviii, says, "No Latin 
manuscript is known in which 
there is a figure of the horn, with 
the exception of that in Holkam 
Hall, in the borders of which an 
entirely fanciful instrument is de- 

There are drawings m 
MSS C and D of the Eastern 
Arabic text, of entirely different 

'Steele (1920), p. 151. 

'Cap. 5. 



The royal 
of Wenzel 
II of 

mancy and 
nomy of 

moved the belt, whereupon a serpent suddenly appeared, bit 
the stone out of the belt, and vomited it into the river. De- 
prived of his talisman, Alexander presently met his death.^ 

Another Lapidary, printed as Aristotle's at Merseburg 
in 1473, is really a compilation of previous medieval works 
on the subject with the addition of some items derived from 
the personal knowledge or experience of the author. It was 
composed "to the honor of almighty God and the glory and 
perpetual memory of that virtuous and most glorious prince, 
Wenzel II, King of Bohemia" (1278-1305). As the trea- 
tise itself states, "the Lapidary of Aristotle in the recent 
translation from the Greek" is only one of its sources along 
with Avicenna, Constantinus Africanus, Albertus Magnus, 
and others. 

Another work which claims Aristotelian authorship only 
in its title is the Chiromancy of Aristotle, printed at Ulm in 
1490, which quotes freely from Albertus Magnus and Avi- 
cenna. There are also brief tracts on chiromancy ascribed 
to Aristotle in manuscripts of the thirteenth or fourteenth 
century.- Forster has identified Polemon as the author of 
the Greek treatise on physiognomy ascribed to Aristotle.^ 
The art of physiognomy of course professed to read char- 
acter from the face or other parts of the body, and chiro- 
mancy which we have just mentioned is really a branch of it. 
In Latin translation the treatise was accepted as Aristotle's 

' Very similar is the story in the 
Gilgamesh epic, a work "far more 
ancient than Genesis," of a ser- 
pent stealing a life-giving plant 
from Gilgamesh while he was 
bathing in a well or brook. The 
plant, which had been revealed 
to Gilgamesh by the deified Ut- 
napishtim, "had the miraculous 
power of renewing youth and bore 
the name, 'the old man becomes 
young.' " Sir James Frazer 
(1918), I, 50-51, follows Rabbi 
Julian Morgenstern ("On Gilga- 
mesh Epic, XI, 274-320," in Zrft- 
schrift f. Assyriologie, XXIX, 
1915, p. 284ff) in connecting this 
incident with the serpent and the 

tree of life in the Biblical account 
of the fall of man, and gives fur- 
ther examples from primitive 
folk-lore of other jealous animals, 
such as the dog, frog, duck, and 
lizard, perverting divine gifts or 
good tidings to man to their own 

' Sloane 2030, fols. 125-26; Ad- 
ditional 15236, fols. 154-60: BN, 
74.?oA (14th century) S16. 

'Richard Forster, Dc Aristoielis 
quae feruntur physiognomonicis 
recensendis, Kiliae, 1882 ; De 
translat. latin. physiognom., 
Kiliae, 1884; Scriptores Physiog- 
nomici, Lipsiae, 1893- 1894. 


by such medieval schoolmen as Albertus Magnus and Duns 
Scotus. There are many manuscripts of it in the British 
Museum, including one which perhaps dates back to the 
twelfth century.^ Its popularity continued long after the 
invention of printing, as is shown by separate editions of it 
brought out at Paris in 1535 and at Wittenberg in 1538, 
and by commentaries upon it - published at Paris in 161 1, at 
Bologna in 1621, and at Toulouse in 1636. Besides such 
separate manuscripts and editions of it, it was also regu- 
larly embodied in the numerous copies of the pseudo- Aris- 
totelian work to which we next turn. 

Most widely influential upon the medieval mind of all The 
the spurious works attributed to Aristotle was The Secret Secrets 
of Secrets. Forster enumerated two hundred and seven 
Latin manuscripts of it and his list is probably far from 
complete.^ Gaster calls it "The most popular book of the 
middle ages." * This is not surprising since it purports to 
sum up in concise form what the greatest of ancient philoso- 
phers deemed it essential for the greatest of ancient rulers 
to know, and since under the alluring pretense of revealing 
great secrets in parable and riddle it really masses together 
a number of the best-tested and most often repeated maxims 
of personal hygiene and practical philosophy, and some of 
the superstitions to which men have shown themselves most 
inclined. Every European library of consequence contains 
a number of copies of it. It was translated into almost every 
European language and was often versified, as in Lydgate's 

^ Cotton Julius D-viii, f ol. I26ff. ; feruntur secreta secretorum Com- 

Harleian 3969; Egerton 847; mcntatio, Kiliae, 1888; Hand- 

Sloane 2030, fol. 95-103; Addi- schriften und Ausgaben des 

tional 15236, fol. 160 (in abbre- pseudo-aristotelischcn Secretutn 

viated form) ; Sloane 3281, fols. secretorum, in Centralblatt f. Bib- 

19-23; Sloane 3584; Egerton 2852, liothckivescn, VI (1889), 1-22, 57- 

fol. 115V, et seq. 76. And see Steele (1920). 

* There is a manuscript copy of * M. Gaster, in his "Introduction 

a commentary on it of the four- to a Hebrew version of the Secret 

teenth century at Erfurt, Amplon. of Secrets," in the Journal of the 

Quarto 186. See Schum's cata- Royal Asiatic Society (1908, part 

logue for MSS of the Physio- 2), pp. 1065-84; for the Hebrew 

gnomia itself in the Amplonian text and an English translation, 

collection. Ibid. (1907), pp. 879-913 and 

' R. Forster, De Aristotelis quae (1908, part i), pp. 11 1-62. 






and Burgh's Secrees of old Philisoffres} Albertus Magnus 
cited it as Aristotle's; - Roger Bacon wrote a rather jejune 
commentary upon it.^ It was printed a number of times 
before 1500.^ 

The Secrets of Secrets is beheved to be the outcome of a 
gradual process of compilation from very varied sources, 
and to have reached something like its present form by the 
seventh or eighth century of our era. But its chapters on 
physiognomy, as we have seen, go back to Polemon's trea- 
tise, and part of its medical discussion is said to be bor- 
rowed from Diodes Caristes who wrote about 320 B. C. 
Some Graeco-Persian treatise is thought to be the basis of 
its discussion of kingship. It is also believed to have 
appropriated bits from popular literature to its own uses. 
In Arabic there is extant both a longer and a shorter ver- 
sion, and Gaster has edited a Hebrew text which is appar- 

'Ed. Robert Steele, EETS, 
LXVI, London, 1894. Volume 
LXXIV contains three earlier 
English versions. There are nu- 
merous MSS of it in Italian in the 
Riccardian and Palatini collec- 
tions at Florence. 

^ De Somno et vigilia, I, ii, 7- 

^Tanner 116, 13th century; 
Corpus Christi 149, 15th century. 
Recently edited by Robert Steele, 
1920, as Ease. V of his Opera hac- 
tenus inedita Rogeri Baconi. 

* There are considerable dis- 
crepancies between the different 
early printed editions, which differ 
in length, order of arrangement, 
tables of contents, and number of 
chapters. And in the same edi- 
tion the chapter headings given 
in the course of the text may not 
agree with those in the table of 
contents, which as a rule, even in 
the MSS, does not fully cover the 
subject-matter of the text. The 
different printers have probably 
used different manuscripts for 
their editions rather than made 
any new additions of their own. 
The following editions are those 
to which references will be made 
in the following pages. 

An edition printed at Cologne 
about 1480, which I examined at 
the Harvard University Library, 
divides the text into only thirty 
chapters and seems imperfect. 

An edition of about 1485, which 
I examined at the British A'lu- 
seum, where it was numbered 
I A. 10756, has 74 chapters, and the 
headings of its 25th and 30th 
chapters, for instance, agree with 
those of the nth and 13th chap- 
ters in the Harvard copy. 

A third edition of Paris, 1520, 
has no numbered chapters and 
contains passages not found in 
the two earlier editions. 

As a check upon these printed 
texts I have examined the three 
following MSS, two of the 13th, 
and one of the 14th, century. Of 
these Egerton 2676 corresponds 
fairly closely throughout to the 
edition numbered I A. 10756 in the 
British Museum. 

Egerton 2676, 13th century, fols. 

BN 6584, 13th century, fols. ir- 

Bodleian 67, 14th century, fols. 
1-53V, is much like the preceding 


ently derived from an Arabic original different from that 
of any Latin text. The process of successive compilation,, 
or at least, re-editing and repeated translation which the 
work underwent is suggested by a series of prologues which 
occur at the beginning. Following the preface of the Latin 
translator and the table of contents comes what is called "the 
prologue of a certain doctor in commendation of Aristotle," ^ 
in which omnipotent God is prayed to guard the king and 
some anonymous editor states that he has executed the man- 
date enjoined upon him to procure the moral work on royal 
conduct called Tlie Secret of Secrets, which Aristotle, chief 
of philosophers, composed. After some talk about Aristotle 
and Alexander a second prologue begins with the sentence, 
"John who translated this book, son of a patrician, most skil- 
ful and faithful interpreter of languages, says." This John 
appears to have been Yuhanna ibn el-Batrik, or Ibn Yahya 
al-Batrik, who died in 815 A. D.^ What he says is that he 
searched the world over until he came to an oracle of the 
sun which Esculapides had constructed. There he found a 
solitary abstemious sage who presented him with this book 
which he translated from Greek into Chaldaic and thence 
into Arabic. This passage reminds one of Harpocration's 
prefatory remarks to his daughter in the Kiranides; indeed, 
it is quite in the usual style of apocryphal writings. 

In the matter of the Latin translation we are on some- The Latin 
what more certain ground. John of Spain in the first half J-^ns ^f 
of the twelfth century seems to have translated only the John of 
medical portion.^ Manuscripts of this partial translation are phiiip. 

^ BN 6584, fol. IV, "De prologo custodiat regem. . . ." 

cuiusdam doctoris in commenda- 'Steele (1920), p. xi. 

tione aristotelis." See also Digby ^ Steinschneider (1905), p. 42, 

228, 14th century, fol. 27, where a it is true, says, "Ob Job. selbst das 

scribe has written in the upper ganze Secretum iibersetzt habe, ist 

margin, "In isto libello primo noch nicht ermittelt" ; but the f ol- 

ponitur prologus, deinde tabula lowing passage, cited by Giacosa 

contentorum in libro, deinde pro- ( 1901), p. 386, from Bibl. Angelica 

logus cuiusdam doctoris in com- Rome, Cod. 1481, 12th century, 

mendacionem Aristotilis, deinde fols. 144-146V, indicates that he 

prologus lohannis qui transtulit translated only the medical part. 

librum istum. . . ." In Egerton "Cum de utilitate corporis olim 

2676, fol. 6r, "Deus omnipotens tractarim et a me quasi essem 



relatively few/ and it was presently superseded by the com- 
plete translation made either in the twelfth or early thir- 
teenth century " by Philip, "the least of his clerics" for "his 
most excellent lord, most strenuous in the cult of the Chris- 
tian religion, Guido of Valencia, glorious pontiff of the city 
of Tripoli." Philip goes on to say in his dedicatory preface 
that it was when he was with Guido in Antioch that they 
found "this pearl of philosophy, . . . this book which con- 
tains something useful about almost every science," and 
which it pleased Guido to have translated from Arabic into 
Latin. Although the various printed editions and manu- 
scripts of The Secret of Secrets in Latin vary considerably, 
they regularly are preceded by this ascription of the Latin 
translation to Philip, and usually by the other prologues 
afore-mentioned. Who this Philip w^as, other than a cleric 
of Tripoli, is still undetermined. If he was the same as the 
papal physician whom Alexander III in 1177 proposed to 
send on a mission to Prester John,^ he had probably made 
his translation before that date. J. Wood Brown would 
identify him with Philip of Salerno, a royal notary whose 
name appears in 1200 on deeds in the kingdom of Sicily.^ 

medicus vestra nobilitas quereret 
ut brevem libellum et de obser- 
vatione diete et de continentia 
cordis in qualibus se debent con- 
tineri qui sanitatem corporis 
cupiunt servare accidit ut dum 
cogitarem vestre iussioni obedire 
huius rei exempliar aristotelis 
philosophi Alexandre dictum re- 
pente in mente occurreret quod 
excerpi de libro qui arabice vo- 
catur ciralacerar id est secretum 
secretorum que fecit fieri predic- 
tus Aristotelis philosophus Alex- 
andre regi magno de dispositione 
regni in quo continentur multa 
regibus utilia. . . ." 

Steele (1920) pp. xvii-xviii, 
gives the same passage, worded 
and spelled a little differently, 
from another MS, Addit. 26770. 

^ Ed. H. Souchier, Denkm'dlcr 
provenzal. Lit. u. Sprache, Halle, 
188.^, I, 473 et seq. 

' Thirteenth century MSS of 

Philip's translation are numerous ; 
I have not noted a 12th century 

^ See above, chapter 47, p. 244. 

* Brown (1897), pp. 19-20, 36-7. 
But not much reliance can be 
placed on the inclusion of this 
name, "Master Philip of Tripoli," 
in a title which Brown (p. 20) 
quotes from a De Rossi MS, "The 
Book of the Inspections of Urine 
according to the opinion of the 
Masters, Peter of Berenice, Con- 
stantine Damascenus, and Julius 
of Salerno; which was composed 
by command of the Emperor 
Frederick, Anno Domini 1212, in 
the month of February, and was 
revised by Master PhiHp of Trip- 
oli and Master Gerard of Cre- 
mona at the orders of the King of 
Spain," etc., since Gerard of 
Cremona at least had died in 
1 187 and there was no "king of 
Spain" until 1479. 


I have already suggested that possibly he translated the 

Returning to Philip's preface to Guido, it may be noted Philip's 
that he states that Latins do not have the work, and that it is 
rare among the Arabs. ^ His translation is a free one since 
the Arabic idiom is different from the Latin. Aristotle 
wrote this book in response to the petition of King Alex- 
ander his disciple who demanded that Aristotle should either 
come to him or faithfully reveal the secrets of certain arts, 
namely, the motion, operation, and power of the stars in 
astronomy, the art of alchemy, the art of knowing natures 
and working enchantments, and the art of geomancy. Aris- 
totle was too old to come in person, and although it had been 
his intention to conceal in every way the secrets of the said 
sciences, yet he did not venture to contradict the will and 
command of so great a lord. He hid some matters, how- 
ever, under enigmas and figurative locutions. For Alex- 
ander's convenience he divided the work into ten books, 
each of which is divided into chapters and headings. Philip 
adds that for his readers' convenience he has collected 
these headings at the beginning of the work, and a table of 
contents follows.^ Then come the two older prologues 

Brown does not give the Latin Philip's preface is omitted in the 
for the passage, but if the date Harvard edition. 
1212 could be regarded as Spanish * The preliminary table of con- 
era and turned into 1174 A. D., tents, however, gives only chapter 
Gerard of Cremona would still be headings, which in BN 6584 are 
living, the emperor would be 82 in number, but the beginnings 
Frederick Barbarossa instead of of the ten books are indicated in 
Frederick II, and Master Philip the text in BN 6584 as follows, 
of Tripoli might be the same The numbers in parentheses are 
Philip whom Pope Alexander III the corresponding leaves in Bod- 
proposed to send to Prester John leian 67 which, however, omits 
in 1 177. mention of the book and its num- 

Steele (1920) p. xix, inclines to ber except in the case of the 

identify Philip of Tripoli with a fourth book. 

canon of Byblos from 1243 to Fol. 3v (sr), Incipit liber pri- 

1248. but that seems to me too late mus. Epistola ad Alexandrum. 

a date for his translation of The Fol. 6r, Secundus liber de dis- 

Sccrct of Secrets. positione Regali et reverentia 

'BN 6584, fol. ir, "Hunc lib- Regis, 

rum quo carebant latini eo quod Fol. I2r (i8v), Incipit liber ter- 

apud paucissimos arabies reperi- tius. Cum hoc corpus corruptibile 

tur transtuli cum magno labore sit eique accidit corruptio. . . . 

..." A considerable portion of Fol. 22r (36r), Incipit liber 



nence of 

of mys- 

of king- 

which we have already described, next a letter of Aristotle 
to Alexander on the extrinsic and intrinsic causes of his 
work/ and then with a chapter which is usually headed 
Distinctio regiini or Reges sunt quatuor begins the discus- 
sion of kingship which is the backbone of the work. 

It is evident from Philip's preface that occult science also 
forms a leading feature in the work as known to him. Cas- 
ter, who contended that the Hebrew translation from the 
Arabic which he edited was as old as either John of Spain's 
or Philip's Latin translations, although the oldest of the 
four manuscripts which he collated for his text is dated 
only in 1382 A. D., made a rather misleading statement 
when he affirmed, "Of the astrology looming so largely in 
the later European recensions the Hebrew has only a faint 
trace." ^ As a matter of fact some of the printed editions 
contain less astrology than the thirteenth century manu- 
scripts, while Caster's Hebrew version has much more than 
"a faint trace" of astrology. But more of this later. 

On the other hand, I cannot fully subscribe to Stein- 
schneider's characterization of The Secret of Secrets as "a 
wretched compilation of philosophical mysticism and varied 
superstition." ^ Of superstition there is a great deal, but of 
philosophical mysticism there is practically none. Despite 
the title and the promise in Philip's preface of enigmatic 
and figurative language, the tone of the text is seldom mys- 
tical, and its philosophy is of a very practical sort. 

Nor can The Secret of Secrets be dismissed as merely "a 
wretched compilation." Those portions which deal with 

quartus. transtulit magister philip- 
pus tripolitanus de forma iusticie. 
Fol. 28r (44v), Liber Quintus 
et scriptoribus secre- 

(45r), Liber Sextus de 
informationibus ipso- 

de scribis 

Fol. 28r 
nuntiis et 

Fol. 28v (46V), Liber Septimus 
de hiis qui sr' intendunt et habent 
curam subditorum. 

Fol. 29r (47r), Liber Octavus 
de dispositione ductoris sui et de 

electione bellatorum et procerum 
inferiores (?). 

Fol. 29V (48r), Liber Nonus de 
regimine bellatorum et forma 
aggredicndi bellum et pronata- 
tionibus eorundem. 

Fol. 30V (50V), Sermo de 
phisionomia cuiuslibet hominis. 

^ It is omitted in some printed 
editions, but occurs in both 13th 
century MSS which I examined. 

'Gaster (1908), p. 1076. 

' Steinschneider (1905), p. 60. 


kingcraft and government display shrewdness and common 
sense, worldly wisdom and knowledge of human nature, are 
not restricted by being written from any one premise or 
view-point, and often evince real enlightenment. Those 
historians who have declared the love of fame a new product 
of the Italian Renaissance should have read the chapter on 
fame in this most popular book of the middle ages, where 
we find such statements as that royal power ought not to be 
desired for its own sake but for the sole purpose of achiev- 
ing fame. Other noteworthy utterances indicative of the tone 
and thought of the book are that "the intellect ... is the 
root of all things praiseworthy" ; that kings should cultivate 
the sciences ; that liberality involves respect for others' prop- 
erty ; that "war destroys order and devastates the lands and 
turns everything to chaos" ; that no earthly ruler should shed 
blood, which is reserved for God alone, but limit his punish- 
ments to imprisonment, flogging, and torture ; that the king, 
as Chief Justice Coke later told James I, is under the law; 
that taxes upon merchants should be light so that they will 
remain in the country and contribute to its prosperity ; that 
his people are a king's true treasury and that he should ac- 
quaint himself with their needs and watch over their in- 

From the medical passages of the book one would infer Medical 
that the art of healing at first developed more slowly than 
the art of ruling in the world's history. The medical theory 
of The Secret of Secrets is not of an advanced or complex 
sort, but is a combination of curious notions, such as that 
vomiting once a month or oftener is beneficial, and sensible 
ideas, such as that life consists of natural heat and that it is 
very important to keep the abdomen warm and the bowels 
moving regularly. Turkish baths are described for perhaps 
the first time in Europe, and Alexander is advised to keep 
his teeth and mouth clean. The well-known apothegm of 
Hippocrates is quoted, "I would rather eat to live than live 
to eat," and Alexander is advised to cease eating while he 
still has an appetite. 



Astrology. Much of the advice offered to Alexander by Aristotle in 
The Secret of Secrets is astrological. Among those studies 
which the king should promote, the only one specifically 
mentioned is astrology, which considers "the course of the 
year and of the stars, the coming festivals and solemnities 
of the month, the course of the planets, the cause of the 
shortening and lengthening of days and nights, the signs of 
the stars which determine the future and many other things 
which pertain to prediction of the future." ^ Alexander is 
adjured "not to rise up or sit down or eat or drink or do any- 
thing without consulting a man skilled in the art of as- 
tronomy." ^ Later the two parts of astronomy are dis- 
tinguished, that is, astronomy and astrology in our sense of 
the words. Alexander is further warned to put no faith in 
the utterances of those stupid persons who declare that the 
science of the stars is too difficult to master. No less stupid 
is the argument of others who affirm that God has foreseen 
and foreordained everything from eternity and that conse- 
quently all things happen of necessity and it is therefore 
of no advantage to predict events which cannot be avoided. 
For even if things happened of necessity, it would be easier 
to bear them by foreknowing and preparing for them before- 
hand, just as men make preparations against the coming of 
a cold winter — the familiar contention of Ptolemy. But 
The Secret of Secrets also believes that one should pray God 
in His mercy to avert future evils and ordain otherwise, 
"For He has not so ordained things that to ordain other- 
wise derogates in any respect from His Providence." But 
this is not so approved astrological doctrine. Later in the 
work Alexander is once more urged never to take medicine 
or open a vein except with the approval of his astronomers,^ 
and directions are given as to the constellations under which 

* Cap. II (Harvard copy) ; cap. (1920) p. 60; also in Caster's He- 

25 (BM IA.10756) ; Egerton 2676, brew text. 

fol. I2r; BN 6584, fol. g\; Steele 'Egerton 2676, fol. 32r ; cap. 

(1920) pp. 58-59. 62 (BM IA.10756) ; fol. 33r 

'Cap. 13 (Harvard copy); cap. (Paris, 1520); BN 6584, fol. iQv; 

30 (BM I A. 10756) ; Egerton 2676, Steele (1920) pp. 108-10. 
fol. I3r; BN 6584, fol. lor ; Steele 


bleeding should be performed and also concerning the tak- 
ing of laxatives with reference to the position of the moon 
in the signs of the zodiac.^ Later the work discusses the 
relations of the four elements and of various herbs to the 
seven planets,^ and in the next to last chapter Alexander is 
advised to conduct his wars under the guidance of astrol- 

There is much indulging in astrological theory in the Story of 
midst of the chapter on Justice, and the constitution of the boys!^° 
universe is set forth from the first and highest simple spir- 
itual substance down through the nine heavens and spheres 
to the lowest inferiors. To illustrate the power of the stars 
the story is presently told of two boys,'* one a weaver's son, 
the other a royal prince of India. Sages who were chance 
guests in the weaver's house at the time of the child's birth 
noted that his horoscope was that of a courtier high in royal 
councils but kept their discovery to themselves. The boy's 
parents vainly tried to make a weaver of him, but even 
beatings were in vain; he was finally allowed to follow his 
natural inclination, secured an education, and became in 
time a royal governor. The king's son, on the contrary, 
despite his royal birth and the fact that his father sent him 
through all his provinces to learn the sciences, would take 
no interest in anything except mechanics conformably to his 

In The Secret of Secrets the Pseudo-Aristotle refers Virtues 
Alexander for the virtues of gems and herbs to his treatises °jf(/j^°"u^ 
on stones and plants, presumably those which we have al- incanta- 
ready described. He does not entirely refrain from discus- amulets. 

* The Paris, 1520, edition then (1920) pp. 258-9. 

goes on to explain the effects of ' This passage is found both in 

incantations and images upon as- Egerton MS 2676 and in BM 

trological grounds, but this pas- IA.10756. BN 6584, fol. 2ir-v. 

sage seems to be missing from the Bodl. 67, fol. 32V-35V. Steele, 119- 

earlier printed editions and the 20. 

thirteenth century manuscripts. ^ Cap. y^ (BM lA. 10756) ; fols. 
Roger Bacon, however, implies 44v-45r (Paris, 1520) ; BN 6584, 
that _ incantations were present in fol. 30V ; Steele, 155-6. 
Philip's original translation, and * BN 6584, fol. 21 r; also in Gas- 
one Arabic MS gives cabalistic ter's Hebrew version; cap. 26 in 
signs for the planets; Steele the Harvard copy ; Steele, 137. 







sion of such marvelous properties in the present work, how- 
ever, mentioning the use of the virtues of stones in con- 
nection with incantations. We also again hear of stones 
which will prevent any army from withstanding Alexander 
or which will cause horses to whinny or keep them from 
doing so; and of herbs which bring true or false dreams or 
cause joy, love, hate, honor, reverence, courage, and in- 
ertia.^ One recipe reads, "If you take in the name of some- 
one seven grains of the seeds of the herb called androsimon, 
and hold them in his name when Lucifer and Venus are ris- 
ing so that their rays touch him (or them?), and if you give 
him those seven grains to eat or pulverized in drink, fear 
of you will ever abide in his heart and he will obey you for 
the rest of his life." ^ The discussion of incantations, astro- 
logical images, and amulets is omitted from many Latin 
manuscripts but occurs in Roger Bacon's version.^ 

The extreme powers attributed to herbs and stones in 
The Secret of Secrets aroused some scepticism among its 
Latin readers of the thirteenth century.^ Geoffrey of Wa- 
ter ford, a Dominican from Ireland who died about 1300, 
translated The Secret of Secrets into French. He criticized, 
however, its assertions concerning the virtues of stones and 
herbs as more akin to fables than to philosophy, a fact of 
which, he adds, all clerks who know Latin well are aware. 
He wonders why Alexander had to win his battles by hard 
fighting when Aristotle is supposed to inform him in this 
book of a stone which will always rout the enemy. Geof- 
frey decides that such false statements are the work of the 
translators and that Aristotle is the author only of what is 
well said or reasonable in the work. 

Something is said in The Secret of Secrets of the occult 
properties and relative perfection of numbers, and as usual 

*Gaster, pp. 116, 160-62; Eger- 
ton 2676, fols. 34r-35r ; cap. 66 
(BM lA. 10756) ; fol. 27^ (Paris, 
1520) ; BN 6584, fol. 2or-22r ; 
Steele, 121 -2. 

'Egerton 2676, fol. 36V ; BN 

6584. fol. 22r; Steele, 122. 

' Steele (1920) pp. Ixii, 157-63, 
252-61; Paris (1520), fol. 37; 
Gaster, p. 159. 

*HL XXI, 2i6fT. 


the preference is for the numbers, three, four, seven, and 
ten.^ The Hebrew version adds a puerile method of divin- 
ing who will be victor in a battle by a numerical calculation 
based upon the letters in the names of the generals. The 
Latin versions of the thirteenth century contain a chapter on 
alchemy which had great influence and gives a recipe for the 
philosopher's stone and the Emerald Table of Hermes.^ But 
in the Hebrew version and Achillini's printed text occurs a 
passage in which Alexander is warned that alchemy is not 
a true science.^ 

We may'conclude our picture of the work's contents with The 
two of its stories, namely, concerning the poisonous maiden maTden " 
and the Jew and the Magus. A beautiful maiden was sent 
from India to Alexander with other rich gifts. But she had 
been fed upon poison from infancy "until she was of the 
nature of a snake. And had I not perceived it," continues 
Aristotle in the Hebrew version, "for I suspected the clever 
men of those countries and their craft, and had I not found 
by tests that she would kill thee by her embrace and by her 
perspiration, she surely would have killed thee." ^ This 
venomous maiden is also alluded to in various medieval dis- 
cussions of poisons. Peter of Abano mentions her in his 
De venenis.^ Gilbert of England, following no doubt Ge- 
rard of Cremona's translation of Avicenna, cites Ruffus 
rather than the Pseudo-Aristotle concerning her and says 
nothing of her relations with Alexander, but adds that ani- 
mals who approached her spittle were killed by it.*' In Le 
Secret aux philosophes, a French work of the closing thir- 

*Caps. 68 and 72 (BM lA. 10756, and BN 6584, fol. lor, 

10756) ; cap. 68 appears in Eger- where Aristotle seems to detect 

ton 2676; cap. 72 in Caster's text the venomous nature of the 

and in the Paris (1520) edition. maiden by magic art — "Et nisi 

I could not find the passage in BN ego ilia hora sagaciter inspexis- 

6584; Steele (1920) 134-5. sem in ipsam et arte magica 

' BN 6584, fol. 2or-v ; Egerton iudicassem . . ." ; while it is her 

2676, fols. 33v-34r; cap. 65 (BM mere bite that kills men, as Alex- 

lA. 10756) ; fols. 36v-37r (Paris ander afterwards proved experi- 

1520) ; Steele, 114-15. mentally; Steele, 60. 

* Caster, 159-60; fol. 38r (Paris, * Cap. 3. 

1520); Steele, 174. *Cilbertus Anglicus, Compen- 

* Caster, p. 127; cap. 12 (Har- dium niedicinae, Lyons, 1510, fol. 
vard copy) ; also in BM I A. 348V. 


teenth century, where the story is told at considerable length, 
Socrates rather than Aristotle saves Alexander from the 
poisonous maid.^ 
The Jew In the other story a Magus is represented in a much more 

Magus! favorable light than magicians generally v^ere; he seems to 
represent rather one of the Persian sages. He was travel- 
ing on a mule with provisions and met a Jew traveling on 
foot. Their talk soon turned to their respective religions 
and moral standards. The Magus professed altruism; the 
Jew was inclined to get the better of all men except Jews. 
When these principles had been stated, the Jew requested the 
Magus, since he professed to observe the law of love, to 
dismount and let him ride the mule. No sooner had this 
been done than the Jew, true to his law of selfishness and 
hate, made off with both mule and provisions. This mis- 
fortune did not lead the Magus to lose his faith in God, 
however, and as he plodded along he by and by came again 
upon the Jew who had fallen off the mule and broken his 
neck. The Magus then mercifully brought the Jew to the 
nearest town where he died, while the king of the country 
made the Magus one of his trusted ministers of state.^ 

'HL XXX, 569flF. "Die Sage gen (1905), PP- 156-277. 

vom Giftmadchen" is the theme * BN 6584, fol. 27; lA. 10756, 

of a long monograph by W. cap. 68 ; also in Paris, 1520 edi- 

Hertz, Gesammelte Abhandlun- tion, etc. ; Steele, 144-6, 



Solomon as a magician — Magic books ascribed to Solomon — Man- 
uscripts of them — Notory art of Solomon and Apollonius — Other 
works ascribed to Solomon and Apollonius — Liber sacratus; preface — 
Incipit and Explicit — A work of theurgy or the notory art — Character 
of its contents — The third "work" — The fourth and fifth "works" — 
How to operate with spirits — The seal of the living God — Spirits of 

It was only natural that Solomon, regarded as the wisest Solomon 
man in the history of the world, should be represented magician. 
in oriental tradition as the worker of many marvels and 
that in the course of time books of magic should be at- 
tributed to him, just as treatises on the interpretation of 
dreams were ascribed to Joseph and Daniel. Roger Bacon 
speaks of the magic books in a grand-sounding style which 
were falsely ascribed to Solomon and which "ought all to be 
prohibited by law." ^ Solomon's reputation as a magician, 
even in the western Latin-speaking world, was much older 
than the thirteenth century, however. In 191 8 Roman 
archaeologists excavated at Ostia a bronze disc, on one 
side of which was depicted Solomon as a magician, stirring 
with a long ladle some mess in a large cauldron. On the 
other side of the disc was a figure of the triple Hecate, who, 
like Solomon, was surrounded by mystic signs and magic 

But to return to the medieval period. In the first half of Magic 
the thirteenth century William of Auvergne, bishop of ascribed to 
Paris, in his treatise on laws declares that there is no di- Solomon. 

* Brewer (1859), pp. 526, 531. Cown, "Solomon as a Magician in 

" The Nation, New York, May Christian Legend," would appear 

10, 1919, p. 744. In January, in the Jourtuil of the Palestine 

1922, it was announced that a Oriental Society. 

paper by Professor C. C. Mc- 



vinity in the angles of Solomon's pentagon, that the rings of 
Solomon and the seals of Solomon and the nine candles 
{candariae) are a form of idolatry, and involve execrable 
consecrations and detestable invocations and images. "As 
for that horrible image called the Idea Salomonis et entocta, 
let it never be mentioned among Christians." In the same 
class are the book called Sacratus and the figure Mandel or 
Amandel} Some years later Albertus Magnus, listing evil 
books of necromantic images in his Specidum astronomiae,^ 
includes five treatises current under the name of Solomon, 
and seems to have in mind about the same works as William. 
One is De figura Almandel, another De novem candariis, and 
a third on the four rings {De quatuor anmdis) opens with 
the words "Dc arte eiitonica et ideica," which remind one 
of William's "Idea Salomonis et entocta," and is perhaps 
also identical with a Liber de umhris ideanim cited under the 
name of Solomon by Cecco d'Ascoli in his necromantic com- 
mentary upon the Sphere of Sacrobosco,^ written in the 
early fourteenth century. 
Manu- Moreover, these same works are apparently still extant in 

^^I^?^^ manuscripts in European libraries. The figure Almandal 
or Almandel and the rings of Solomon are found in fifteenth 
century manuscripts at Florence and Paris, ^ while in the 
Sloane collection of the British Museum we find Solomon's 
pentagon, the divine seal, the four rings, and the nine can- 
dles, all in seventeenth century manuscripts.^ In these sev- 
enteenth century manuscripts also appear, and more than 
once, the Clardicida or Key of Solomon, in French, Italian, 

^ De legibus, cap. 27. 3853, fol. 127V, Divine seal of 

'Cap. II. Solomon; 3847, fols. 66v-8i, 

^ Ed. of 1518, p. 22F2. "Opus mirabile et etiam verissi- 

* Florence II-iii-24, 15th cen- mum de quatuor annulis sapientis- 

tury, 74-77, "Liber in figura Al- simi Salomonis" ; 3850, fols. 68- 

mandel et eius opere / et eius 75, Salomonis opus de novem 

iuditio" ; 77, "Alius liber de Al- candariis celestibus. In a i6th 

mandal qui dicitur tabula vel ara century MS in French there is a 

Salomonis." book of conjurations of spirits 

BN 7349, isth century, 5 8, ascribed to Solomon. The con- 

Annuli Salomonis. jurations themselves are mainly 

'Sloane 3851, fols. 31V-53, in Latin. CU Trinity 1404 (VI). 

"Signum Pentaculum Salomonis"; 




and English,^ the book by Solomon called Cephar or Saphar 
Raziel,^ and the Liber sacer or sacratus.^ The last-named 
work, mentioned at least twice in the thirteenth century by 
William of Auvergne, who calls it "a cursed and execrable 
book," ^ is also found in manuscripts of the fourteenth 
or fifteenth century,^ and we shall presently consider it in 
particular as a specimen of the Pseudo-Solomon literature 
and of medieval books of magic, theurgy, and necromancy. 

Let us first, however, note some other works ascribed Notory 
to Solomon and which have to do with the Ars Notoria, or 
Notory Art, which seeks to gain knowledge from or com- 
munion with God by invocation of angels, mystic figures, 
and magical prayers. We are told that the Creator revealed 
this art through an angel to Solomon one night while he 
was praying, and that by it one can in a short time acquire 
all the liberal and mechanical arts.® There seems to be 
little difference between the notory art of Solomon, that of 

and Apol 

^ Harleian 3536, in French ; 
Sloane 1307, in Italian, the trans- 
lation being ascribed to "Gio. 
Peccatrix" ; Sloane 3825 and 3847 
are not identical versions. 

^Sloane 3826, fols. 1-57; 3846, 
fols. 127-55; 3847, fols. 161-88; 
3853, fols. 41-53. Perhaps the 
same as the "Sefer ha-Yashar" 
mentioned by Haya Gaon in the 
early eleventh century : Gaster, 
The Sword of Moses, i8g6, p. 16. 

^ Sloane 3883, fols. 1-25, De 
mode ministrandi librum sacrum 
(revealed to Solomon by an 

Sloane 3885, fols. 1-25, "Liber 
sacer Salomonis," repeated at 
fols. 96V-125; fols. 58-96, Trac- 
tatus de re magica ab Honorio 
filio Euclidis magistro Thebarum 
ex septem voluminibus artis 
magicae compilatus, et intitulatus 
Liber sacer, sive juratus. 

* De legibus, caps. 24 and 27. 

"Sloane 313, late 14th or 15th 
century (according to a Letter 
from Dr. Montague Rhodes 
James to me, dated 21 May, 1921), 
mutilus, quondam Ben Jonsonii, 
26 fols., Salomonis opus sacrum 

ab Honorio ordinatum, tractatus 
de arte magica. 

Sloane 3854, 14th century, fols. 
112-39, Honorii Magistri Theba- 
rum liber cui titulus "Juratus." 

*BN 7153, 15th century, Solo- 
mon, Sacratissima ars notoria. 

Harleian 181, fol. 18-, Ars 
notoria (Salomoni ab angelo 
tradita) preceded at fol. i- by 
Ars memorativa, and followed at 
fol. 81 by "de arte crucifixa." 

CU Trinity 1419, 1600 A. D., 
Liber de Arte memorativa sive 
notoria . . . Prologus per Sal- 
lomonem . . . Inc. sanctissima Ars 
notoria quam Creator altissi- 
mus per Angelum suum super 
altare templi quodam modo Salo- 
moni dum oraret ministrans. 

Math. 50 (Amplonius' catalogue 
of 1412), "Item liber continens 
septem libros parciales qui dicitur 
angelus magnus vel secreta secre- 
torum et est de arte notoria 
Salomonis et non debet rudibus 

CLM 19413, lo-iith century, 
fols. 67-108, Salomonis III for- 
mulae, might turn out to be a 
work on Notory Art. 



Solomon, Machineus, and Euclid,^ and the Golden Flowers 
of ApoUonius,^ in which Solomon is mentioned almost every 
other sentence. Cecco d'Ascoli may have had it in mind 
when he cited the Book of Magic Art of Apollonius and 
the Angelic Faction of the same author.^ In one manu- 
script at the close of the Golden Flowers of Apollonius are 
prayers which one "brother John Monk" confesses he him- 
self has composed in the years 1304-1307.^ In a later manu- 
script we find his prayers described as given to him by the 
blessed God and as "perfect science," and they are followed 
by "The Pauline art," discovered by the Apostle Paul after 
he had been snatched up to the third heaven, and delivered 
by him at Corinth.^ Other works of notory art are listed in 
the manuscript catalogues without name of author.^ But all 
alike are apt to impress the present reader as unmeaning 
jumbles of diagrams and magic words. '^ We shall suffi- 

^ Sloane 1712, 13th century, fols. 
1-22, "Ars notoria Salomonis, 
Machine!, et Euclidis," followed 
at fols. 22-37 by an anonymous 
"ars notoria quae nova ars appel- 

BN 7152, 14th century, Expo- 
sitiones quas Magister Apollonius 
flores aureos ad eruditionem et 
cognitionem omnium scientiarum 
et naturalium artium generaliter 
et merito et competenter appella- 
vit ; hoc opus Salomonis Machinei 
et Euclidii actoritate maxima 
compositum et probatum est : ac- 
cedunt figurae. 

^CLM 268, 14th century, 16 
fols.; CLM 276, 14th century, fols. 
1-26, Apollonii flores aurei, quo- 
rum pars extat in cod. 268. 

Amplon. Quarto 380, 13th cen- 
tury, fols. 49-64, ars Dotoria Ap- 
polonii philosophi et magi ; while 
the 1412 catalogue gives Math. 54, 
"Liber Appollonii magi vel philo- 
sophi qui dicitur Elizinus" ; Am- 
plon. Octavo 84, 14th century, 
fols. 95-106 (Apollonii) de arte 
notoria Salomonis. 

.A.shmole 1515, i6th century, fol. 
4r, "Incipit primus tractatus is- 
tius sanctissime artis notorie et 
expositiones eius et temporum ex- 

ceptiones, quas Salomon et Apol- 
lonius flores aureos appellaverunt, 
et hoc opere probatum est et 
confirmatum authoritate Salomo- 
nis, Manichei et Euduchii." 

^Sphere (1518), fol. 3- 

* CLM 276, fol. 49- 

"BN 7170A, i6th century, If i, 
de arte notoria data a Deo beato 
Joanni Monacho sive de scientia 
perfecta : praemittuntur orationes 
decem ; 1 2, Ars Paulina, a Paulo 
Apostolo inventa post raptum eius 
et Corinthiis denotata. 

' BN 9336, 14th century, "Sacra- 
tissima ars notoria." 

Amplon, Quarto 28, anno 1415, 
fols. 38-41, ars notoria et ora- 
tionibus et figuris exercenda ; 
Amplon. Octavo 79, 14th century, 
fols. 63-64, ars notoria brevis et 

Sloane 3008, isth century, fol. 
66-, de arte notoria, brief and 

' Essentially similar is "The 
Sword of Moses. An ancient 
book of magic from an unique 
manuscript, with introduction, 
translation, an index of mystical 
names and a facsimile. Published 
for the first time," London, 1896, 
by ]^^. Caster from a Hebrew MS 




ciently illustrate them all when we come to speak of the 
Liber sacratus which is itself in large measure concerned 
with the Notory Art. 

Certain works may be mentioned which are ascribed to 
Solomon or to Apollonius in the medieval manuscripts, and 
which do not seem to be concerned with the notory art. 
Experiments ascribed to Solomon will be mentioned in an- 
other place in connection with experimental literature. 
Treatises of alchemy and astrology also were attributed to 
him.^ Under the name of Apollonius we find a work on 
the properties or occult virtue of things, and another, or 
possibly the same, on the principal causes of things.^ One 
wonders if it may have any connection with the book on six 
principles of things ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus and 
which has been discussed in our chapter on Hermetic Books 
in the Middle Ages. A treatise on palmistry is ascribed to 
Solomon in a fourteenth century manuscript at Cambridge.^ 
A "Philosophy of Solomon" in a manuscript of the late 
twelfth century in the British Museum consists of "notes 
perhaps from more than one source on the analogy between 
the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the three divi- 
sions of philosophy {moralis, naturalis, inspectiva) , and the 
three books of Solomon." ** 

The Liber sacratiis, as William of Auvergne twice en- 
titles it, or the Liber sacer or Liber juratus, as it is also 

of I3-I4th century. Gaster (p. 
18) describes the treatise as "a 
complete encyclopaedia of mystical 
names, of eschatological teach- 
ings, and of magical recipes." 
The Sword proper is a series of 

^ Sloane 3849, i5-i6th century, 
fols. 30-38, A noble experiment of 
King Solomon with astrological 

Ashmole 1416, 15th century, fol. 
113V, Libellus de sulphuris virtuti- 
bus; 114-, Fragmentum de plane- 
tarum influentia ; 123-, On perilous 
days ; 123-4, Ars artium, or 
prayers to invoke spirits, is per- 
haps a portion of the Ars Notoria. 

'Vienna 3124, 15th century, 

"Verba de proprietatibus rerum 
quomodo virtus unius frangitur 
per alium. Adamas nee ferro nee 
igne domatur / cito medetur." 

BN 13951, I2th century, Liber 
Apollonii de principalibus rerum 

'Trinity 1109, fols. 388-90, Expl. 
tract, de Palmistria Salamonis. 
The tract consists of two full 
page diagrams and an explana- 
tion in French. 

* Royal 7-D-II, late 12th cen- 
tury, fols. 3-10, opening, "Hanc 
ergo triplicem divine philosophie 
formam. ..." I quote the de- 
scription in the new catalogue of 
the Royal MSS. 

ascribed to 
and Apol- 





called in the manuscripts/ is associated with the name Hon- 
orius as well as Solomon, and is often spoken of as The 
Sworn Book of Honorius. The preface, as given in the 
Latin manuscripts of the fourteenth century — one of which 
once belonged to Ben Jonson — states that under the influ- 
ence of evil spirits the pope and cardinals had passed a de- 
cree aiming at the complete extirpation of the magic art and 
condemning magicians to death. The grounds for this ac- 
tion were that magicians and necromancers were injuring 
everyone, transgressing the statutes of holy mother church, 
making invocations and sacrifices to demons, and dragging 
ignorant people down to damnation by their marvelous il- 
lusions. These charges the magicians hotly deny as inspired 
by the envy and cupidity of the devil who wished to keep 
a monopoly of such marvels. The magicians declare that 
it is impossible for a wicked or impure man to work truly 
by the magic art, in which they assert that the spirits are 
compelled against their will by pure men. The magicians 
further profess to have been forewarned by their art of this 
legislation against them. They hesitate, however, to sum- 
mon the demons to their aid lest those spirits avail them- 
selves of the opportunity to destroy the populace utterly. 
Instead an assembly of 89 masters from Naples, Athens, and 
Toledo has chosen Honorius, son of Euclid,- a master of 
Thebes, to reduce their magic books to one volume contain- 
ing 93 chapters, which they may more readily conceal and 
preserve. And inasmuch as it has pleased the prelates and 
princes to order the burning of their books and the destruc- 
tion of schools of magic, the followers of that art have taken 
an oath not to give this volume to anyone until its owner is 
on his death-bed, never to have more than three copies of it 
made at a time, and never to give it to a woman or to a man 
who is not of mature years and proved fidelity. Each new 
recipient of the sacred volume is also to take this oath. 

* See above, page 281 of this as one of the three co-authors of 
chapter, notes 3 and 5. the work on the Notary Art 

' Possibly he is the same Euclid mentioned above. 


Hence the name, Juratus or Sworn-Book. Its other titles, 
Sacer or Sacratiis, refer either to the sacred names of God 
which constitute much of its text or to its consecration by 
the angels. 

After this proemium, which, like the magic art itself, is Indpit 
probably more impressive than true, the work proper opens Explicit 
with the statement, "In the name of almighty God and Jesus 
Christ, one and true God, I, Honorius, have thus ordered the 
works of Solomon in my book." Later Honorius reiterates 
that he is following the precepts and in the foot-prints of 
Solomon, whom he also often cites or quotes in course. 
The Explicit of the SworurBook is unusually long and sets 
forth in grandiloquent style the purpose of the volume. 

"So ends the book of the life of the rational soul,^ which 
is entitled Liher sacer or The Book of the Angels or Liher 
juratus, which Honorius, Master of Thebes, made. This is 
the book by which one can see God in this life. This is the 
book by which anyone can be saved and led beyond a doubt 
to life eternal. This is the book by which one can see hell 
and purgatory without death. This is the book by which 
every creature can be subjected except the nine orders of 
angels. This is the book by which all science can be learned. 
This is the book by which the weakest substance can over- 
come and subjugate the strongest substances. This is the 
book which no religion possesses except the Christian, or if 
it does, does so to no avail. This is the book which is a 
greater joy than any other joy given by God exclusive of 
the sacraments. This is the book by which corporeal and 
visible nature can converse and reason with the incorporeal 
and invisible and be instructed. This is the book by which 
countless treasures can be had. And by means of it many 
other things can be done which it would take too long to 
enumerate; therefore it is deservedly called The Holy Book." 

From this description it will be seen that the work has A work 

of tliPurfiTV 

a good deal to do with the so-called Notory Art. Moreover, ^j. ^^e 

notory art. 
^ One wonders if this can be the evil book of magic referred to by 
Roger Bacon and other writers as De morte animae. 



of its 

in the manuscript copy said to ha/e belonged to Ben Jonson 
the word Theurgia is written on the fly-leaves before the be- 
ginning and after the close of the text. This calls to mind 
the passage in The City of God ^ where Augustine speaks 
of "incantations and formulae composed by an art of de- 
praved curiosity which they either call magic or by the more 
detestable name goetia or by the honorable title theurgia. 
For they try to distinguish between these arts and condemn 
some men, whom the populace calls malcfici, as devoted to 
illicit arts, for these, they say, are concerned with goetia; 
but others they want to make out praiseworthy as being 
engaged in theurgy. But they are both entangled in the de- 
ceptive rites of demons who masquerade under the names 
of angels." 

The text is full of the names of spirits, prayers in 
strange words, supposedly derived from Hebrew or Chaldaic, 
and other gibberish. Series of letters and figures often oc- 
cur and names inscribed in stars, hexagons, and circles. An 
English translation in a fifteenth century manuscript - is 
adorned with pictures of rows of spirits dressed like monks 
in robes and caps but with angelic wings. The text does 
not seem to be complete in any of the manuscripts that I 
have examined,^ but Sloane 3854 of the fourteenth century 
contains an apparently complete table of contents. The 
chapter headings, anyway, are more intelligible than the 
jargon of the text. The first chapter deals with the com- 
position of the great name of God which contains y2 let- 
ters. The second is about the divine vision and by the time 
it is finished we are nearly two-thirds through the space 
allotted to the Liber juratus in one manuscript. The third 
chapter is on knowledge of the divine power, the fourth on 
absolution from sin, the fifth deals with mortal sin, the sixth 
with the redemption of souls from purgatory. With this 
the "first work" of the collection of Honorius ends. The 

* De civitate Dei, X, 9. 

'Royal 17-A-XLII. 

'Sloane 313 seems to reach only 

as far as the early chapters of the 
"second work." 


opening chapters of the second work discuss the heavens, 
the angels found in each heaven and at the four points of 
the compass, their names and powers, seals and virtues, and 
invocation. Chapters 14 and 15 tell how to get your wish 
from any angel or to acquire the sciences. Chapter 16 tells 
how to learn the hour of one's death, and chapter 17 how 
to know all things, past, present, or future. It was perhaps 
these chapters that William of Auvergne had in mind when, 
in censuring works on divination by inspection of mirrors, 
sword-blades, and human nails to discover stolen articles and 
other hidden things, he added that "from this pest of curi- 
osity proceeded that accursed and execrable work called 
Liber sacratus." ^ That work next returns for three chap- 
ters to the stars and planets and their virtues and influence. 
Chapter 21 then instructs how to turn day into night or 
night into day. Next spirits are further considered, those 
of air and those of fire, their names and their superior 
spirits, their powers, virtues, and seals. Attention is then 
given to the four elements and bodies composed thereof, to 
herbs and plants, and to human nature, after which aquatic 
and terrestrial spirits are discussed. The future hfe is then 
considered and the 33rd chapter, which is the last one of the 
"second work," deals with "the consecration of this book." 

The "third work," which extends from chapter 34 to 87 The third 
inclusive, treats of the control of spirits by words, by seals, ^""^ " 
by tables, and by shutting them up. It tells how to provoke 
thunder and lightning, storms, snow, ice, rain, or dew; how 
to produce flowers and fruit ; how to 1;)ecome invisible ; how 
to wage war and to make an indestructible castle, how to de- 
stroy a town by means of mirrors ; how to sow discord or 
concord, how to open closed doors, to catch thieves, fish, and 
animals, and to produce varied apparitions. 

The fourth work deals with similar marvels but it is The 
stated that two of its chapters, namely, 91 on the apparition and fifth 
of dead bodies which speak and seem to be resuscitated, and "works.' 
92 on the apparent creation of animals from earth, will be 
^De legihus, cap. 24, p. 68 in ed. of 1591. 


omitted as contrary to the will of God. The fifth work or 
book, which seems to coincide with the 93rd and last chap- 
ter of Honorius, is in reality divided into five chapters, which 
return to themes similar to those of the first work. 
How to To illustrate further the character of the work a few 

with^^^ particular passages may be noticed. We are told that there 
spirits. are three ways of operating by means of spirits : the pagan, 
Jewish, and Christian. The pagans sacrificed to spirits of 
earth and air but did not really constrain them. The spirits 
only pretended to be coerced in order to encourage such 
idolatrous practices. "Whoever wishes to operate by such 
experiments" (mark the word!), "deserts the Lord God." 
As for the Jews, they get along only so-so, and "do in no 
wise work to obtain the vision of the deity." Only a Chris- 
tian, therefore, can operate successfully in such visions. 
"And although three kinds of men work at this art of magic, 
one should not think that there is any evil included in this 
name of nmgius, for a magus per se is called a philosopher 
in Greek, a scribe in Hebrew, and a sage in Latin." ^ 
The seal Very elaborate directions are given for the composition 

Uvinff °^ ^^^ ^^^^ ^^ ^^^ living God. Circles are drawn of certain 

God. proportions emblematic of divine mysteries, a cross is made 

within, numerous letters are written down equidistant from 
one another. A pentagon and two hexagons have to be 
placed just so in relation to one another; characters are in- 
scribed in their angles; and various sacred names of God, 
Raphael. Michael, and other angels are written along their 
sides. Different parts must be executed in different colors ; 
a particular kind of parchment must be employed ; and the 
blood of a mole or hoopoe or bat must be used as ink for 
some of the writing. Finally, there are sacrifices, purifica- 
tions, suffumigations, invocations, and prayers to be per- 
formed and offered. This seal, we are told, "will conquer 
the celestial powers, subjugate the aerial and terrestrial to- 
gether with the infernal; invoke, transmit, conjure, con- 
strain, excite, gather, disperse, bind, and restore unharmed; 
*Sloane 3854, fol. ii4r. 

of Saturn. 


will placate men and gain petitions from them graciously, 
pacify enemies," ^ etc., etc. 

The spirits associated with the planet Saturn are Bohel, Spirits 
Casziel, Uuchathon, and Dacdel. Their nature is to cause 
sadness and wrath and hate, to produce ice and snow. Their 
bodies are long and large, pale or golden. Their region is 
in the north and they have five or nine demons under them.^ 
As a rule spirits. of the north and south are ferocious, those 
of the east and the west gentle.^ 

' Sloane 3854, fols. Ii4r-ii5v. XLII, fol. 67V. 

''Ibid., fol. I29v; Royal 17-A- ' Sloane 3854, fol. I3ar. 



Ontirocritica of Artemidorus — Astrampsychos and Nicephorus — 
Achmet translated by Leo Tuscus — Byzantine and oriental divinations 
by Daniel — Latin Dream-Books of Daniel — Sompniale dilucidartum 
Pharaonis — An anonymous exposition of dreams — Physiological origin 
of dreams — Origin and justification of the art of interpretation — 
Sources of the present treatise — Demoniac and natural causes of 
dreams — Interpretation — William of Aragon on prognostication from 
dreams — Who was William of Aragon? — His work formerly ascribed 
to Arnald of Villanova — Another anonymous work on dreams. 


critica of 

Both Jews and Greeks at the beginning of the Christian 
era were much given to the interpretation of dreams. There 
were "estabHshed and frequented dreaming places" at the 
shrines of Asclepius at Epidaurus, Amphiaraus at Oropus, 
Amphilochus at Mallos, Sarpedon in the Troad, Trophonius 
at Lebedea, Mopsus in CiHcia, Hermonia in Macedon, and 
Pasiphae in Laconia. We hear of dream-books by Artemon, 
Antiphon, Strato, Philochoros, Epicharmus, Serapion, Cra- 
tippus, Dionysius of Rhodes, and Hermippus of Beirut. But 
the chief work upon the interpretation of dreams which has 
reached us from the time of the Roman Empire is that of 
Artemidorus, who was born at Ephesus and Hved in Lydia 
in the time of the Antonines. He of course wrote in Greek 
and, despite the superstitious character of his work, in a 
pure and refined Attic style. The 'Oi'etpoKpirtKa has also 
been translated into Latin, French, and Italian.^ It is 

^ Cockayne, Anglo-Saxon 
Leechdoms, RS vol. 35, 1864-1866, 
IIL X. The 'OveipoKpiriKa was 
printed by the Aldine press at 
Venice, 15 18; a Latin translation 
by Cornarius appeared at Basel, 
1539; it was published in both 
Latin and Greek by N. Rigaltius 

at Paris, 1603 ; the modern edi- 
tion is by R. Hercher, Leipzig, 

I have not seen P. Diepgen, 
Traum iind Traumdeutung 
als mcdisiii isch-natunvissenschaft- 
liches Problem im Mittelalter, 
Berlin, 1912. 



a compilation in five books gathered from previous literature 
on the subject and by the author personally in travel in 
Greece, Italy, and elsewhere. The first thirteen chapters 
of the fourth book, which Artemidorus opens with a general 
instruction to his son, deal with such preliminary and gen- 
eral considerations as the different types of dreams and more 
especially those divinely sent, the significance of times, the 
personal qualifications requisite in the interpreter, and cer- 
tain rules of interpretation such as that native customs are 
good signs and foreign ways bad signs in dreams. But the 
great bulk of the work consists of specific interpretation ar- 
ranged either under topical headings such as "Concerning 
Nativity," or listed as single dreams. 

In the edition of 1603 ^ the work of Artemidorus is Astram- 
followed by much briefer metrical treatises on the same and^ Nice- 
subject by Astrampsychos and Nicephorus.^ These poems, phorus 
if they may be so called, devote a line of interpretation to 
each of the things seen in dreams, and these verses are ar- 
ranged in alphabetical order. This was to be the method of 
arrangement adopted in the medieval dream-books ascribed 
to the prophet Daniel. Astrampsychos is first named by 
Diogenes Laertius ^ in the early third century. He was 
supposed to have been one of the Persian Magi, and other 
occult treatises are ascribed to him, including astrological 
writings, a book of oracles addressed to Ptolemy, and love 
charms in a papyrus in the British Museum.* 

Still another work on the interpretation of dreams con- Achmet 
tained in the edition of 1603 ^ is ascribed to "Achmet, the byTio^^'^ 


* Its full title reads : Artemidori Gallaeus. 

Daldiani et Achmetis Screimi F. ' Proem. 2. 

(filius) Oneirocritica. Astranpsy- ''Papyrus 122. 

chi et Nicephori versus etiain " See note i on this page. The 

Oneirocritici. Nicolai Rigaltii ad work was previously printed at 

Artemidorum Notae. Paris. 1603. Frankfort under the title Apo- 

' They cover only twenty pages masaris Apotelcsmata or Prcdic- 

in large type as against the 269 tions of Albumasar. There is 

pages of small type of Artemido- some matter missing at the begin- 

rus. Astrampsychos was also ning of both of these editions of 

published at Amsterdam in 1689 the work, 
with the Oracula Sibyllina by S. 



son of Sereim" or Ahmed ben Sirin.^ The Greek text 
states that he was interpreter of dreams to Mamoun, the 
first minister of the CaHph, which fixes his date as about 
820 A. D.2 Perhaps he is the same Achmet who wrote an 
astrological treatise extant in Greek which he says he 
compiled from books from Adam's time to the present day.^ 
Of the work on dreams there is a Latin version in the 
medieval manuscripts translated from the Greek by Leo 
Tuscus,^ who died in 1182 and was interpreter of imperial 
letters in the time of the Byzantine emperor, Manuel Com- 
nenus. Leo prefixes to his translation a prologue addressed ^ 

^ Rigaltius, however, states that 
Achmet's name did not appear in 
either of the two Latin MSS at 
Paris which he used, nor in the 
Greek one ; but the opening of his 
text, as just stated in the previous 
note, seems defective. 

On Ahmed ben Sirin see: 
Drexl, Achmets Traumbuch 
{Einleitung und Probe eines 
kritischen Textes), Munich dis- 
sertation, 1909; and articles by 
Steinschneider in Zeitschrift d. 
deutsch. Morgenl. Gescllschaft, 
XVII, 227-44, and Vienna Sitz- 
ungsberichte, Phil-hist. Kl. 
CLXIX, 53 and CLI, 2: cited by 
Haskins (1918), p. 494, note 12. 

*Krumbacher (1897), p. 630. 

''Cat. Cod. Astral. Grace., II, 
122, Achmet, De introductione et 
fundamcnto cstrologiae. r) -n-olTjcns 

rOVTOV TOV TOiOVTOV ^iffXioV f/C ri'J' 

'AxM^Ti??, ocrrts '.'S t4>r} awrj^t to. /3i(3Xia 
TO. tvpiffKoneva aird roii 'Adan nkxfii- t^s 
avTOv rjfiepas. 

Since this astrological ^ork 
mentions Albumasar, while Ach- 
met, the author of the dream- 
book, wrote early in the ninth 
century, the editors of the Cata- 
logus doubt if the two Achmets 
are the same, but it should be 
noted that in the astrological trea- 
tise Achmet is spoken of in the 
third person and that it may be a 
re-editing of his original work. 
On the other hand, perhaps this 
astrological Achmet is Alphra- 
ganus. or Ahmetus filius Ahmeti 

(Ameti), as he is often called. 

* C. H. Haskins, Leo Tuscus, in 
EHR (1918), pp. 492-6. Leo's 
activity as a translator is further 
attested by BN 1002, "Liturgia 
sancti Joannis Chrysostomi," 
printed in Claudius de Sainctes, 
Liturgiae sive Missac Sanetorum 
Patrum, Antwerp, 1562, fol. 49. 

" Haskins, op. cit., prints the 
prologue from the first of the fol- 
lowing MSS of Leo's Latin trans- 

Digby 103, late 12th century, 
fol. 59-, "Ad Hugonem Ecerialium 
doctorem suum et utraque origine 
fratrem Leo Tuscus imperatoria- 
rum epistolarum interpres de 
sompniis et oraculis." '"Explicit 
liber sompniorum Latine doctus 
loqui a Leone Thusco imperialium 
epistolarum interprete tempori- 
bus magni imperatoris Manuel." 
Neither this Titulus to the pro- 
logue nor this Explicit appears 
in the printed edition of 1603. 

Wolfenbiittel 2917, I3-I4th cen- 
tury, fols. 1-20, "Ad Hugonem 
Eteriarium doctorem summum et 
utraque origine fratrem Leo Tus- 
cus imperatoriarum epistolarum 
interpres de somniis et oraculis. 
Quamquam, optime preceptor, in- 
victum imperatorem Manuel se- 
quar per fines Bithinie Licaonieque 
f ugantem Persas." H a s k i n s 
(1918), p. 494, shows that this 
statement applies to the year 11 76 
rather than 11 60-1 161 as scholars 
have previously held. 

Haskins also lists the following 



to his brother Hugo Eterianus or Eteriarius (Ecerialius). 
This work of Achmet is of about the same length as that of 
Artemidorus and contains over three hundred chapters. It 
is or pretends to be drawn mainly from Indian, Persian, and 
Egyptian sources and often cites in turn the doctrine or 
interpretation of those three peoples, or mentions by name 
interpreters of dreams of the kings and pharaohs of those 
countries.^ The preface states that the same dream must be 
interpreted differently in the case of king and commoner, of 
rich and poor, and according to sex. The time of the dream 
must also be taken into account. For example, to see a tree 
blossom is a good sign in spring but a bad omen in autumn. 
The hour of the night when the dream occurs and the phases 
of the moon are other time factors which must be reckoned 
with. The remainder of the treatise is devoted to specific in- 
terpretation of dreams. 

To Joseph and Daniel, as the chief Biblical interpreters Byzantine 
of dreams, books on the subject were assigned in the mid- 
dle ages, as John of Salisbury has informed us. Daniel, 
however, seems to have been the greater favorite. Liut- 
prand the Lombard, who died in 972, says in the account 
of his embassy to Constantinople, "The Greeks and Saracens 
have books which they call the horaseis, or Visions, of Dan- 
iel, but I should call them Sibylline. In them is found writ- 
ten how many years each emperor will live, and what will 
be the character of his reign, whether peace or strife, 
whether favorable or hostile relations with the Saracens." ^ 

tions by 

MSS: Harleian 4025, fols. 8-78; 
Ashmole 179; Vatic. Lat. 4094, 
fols. 1-32V; but does not mention 
these : 

BN 72,2,7, 15th century, pp. 141- 
61, which has the same Titulus 
^nd includes the prologue, a table 
of 198 chapters, and the text as 
far as the 37th chapter, De ventre. 

Vienna 5221, 15th century, 136 
fols., "Laborans laboraui in- 
veniendum .../... huiusmodi 
egritudinem jnueniret. Explicit 
liber sompniorum latine doctus 
loqui a leone Imperialium epis- 
tolarum interprete temporibus 

Magni Imperatoris Manuel." 

^ Preface, "ac primo quidem 
secundum Indorum doctrinam, 
deinde Persarum, tum denique 
Aegyptiorum" ; cap. 2, "Strbachan 
regis Indorum interpres ait" ; cap. 
3, "Baram Interpres Saanissae 
Persarum regi" ; cap. 4, "Tarphan 
Interpres Pharaonis regis Aegyp- 

' Quoted by Haskins and Lock- 
wood, The Sicilian Translators, 
1910, p. 93, from the Legatio, ed. 
Diimmler, Hanover, 1877, PP- 



Books of 

A brief set of Greek verses in alphabetical order ascribed 
to the emperor Leo, which occur in a late manuscript with 
various works of the fathers, seem to resemble the Latin 
alphabetical dream-books of which we shall presently treat. ^ 
Works of divination were also attributed to Daniel in Syriac 
and Arabic, such as predictions of rain, hail, and the Hke for 
each day of the year, and of eclipses and earthquakes,^ or 
astrological forecasts for each month of the year.^ There 
is even a geomancy in Turkish ascribed to the prophet 

Dream-Books ascribed to the prophet Daniel are found in 
Latin manuscripts at least as early as the tenth century, and 
continue through the fifteenth century despite the denial of 
their authenticity by John of Salisbury in the twelfth cen- 
tury. At least three different types of Dream-Books of 
Daniel are represented in incunabula editions in the British 
Museum.^ The Dream-Book of Joseph occurs with less 

*BN 3282, 17th century, fols. 
27v-29r, Leonis (sapientis) imp. 
versus alphabetici de future ju- 

"Bodleian 3004, ft 15 (Qu, 
Catal. VI, Syriac, ft 161), Arabice 
literis Syriacis. 

'Alger 1517 and 1518, in Arabic 
but according to the months of the 
Syrian year. 

* Additional 9702. 

'Sonia Daniel' (I A. 8754), 
"Danielis somniorum expositoris 
veridici libellus incipit. . . . Ego 
sum daniel propheta unus de isra- 
helitis qui captivi ducti sunt. . . ." 

Somnia Danielis et Joseph 
(IA.31744), "Omnes prophete 
tradebant somnia que videbant in 
somniis eorum et solus propheta 
Daniel filius lude qui captus a 
rege Nabuchudonosor. . . ." This 
is followed by a second treatise 
which opens, "Incipiunt somnia 
quae composuit Joseph dum cap- 
tus erat a rege Pharaone in 
egypto. . . ." 

Interpretationcs somniorum 

Danielis prophete revelate ah 
angelo tnisso a deo (I.\.ii6o7, 
and IA.18164 is very similar). 

The Incipit in the second edi- 
tion is given in more nearly cor- 
rect form in Sloane 3281, I3-I4th 
century, fol. 39r, "Omnes homines 
tradebant sompnia que trade- 
bant (?) ut solveret propheta 
daniel. . . ." 

Another opening, found in the 
MSS, states that the princes of 
Babylonia asked the prophet 
Daniel to interpret their dreams. 
See Digby 86, late 13th century^ 
fols. 34v-40r, "Daniel propheta 
petebatur a principiis civitatis 
Babilone ut somnia que eis vide- 
bantur solvere (solveret?). Tunc 
sedit et hec omnia scribat (et) 
tradidit populo ad legendum." 
The first two lines of interpreta- 
tion are : 

"Arma in somniis portare securi- 
tatem significat; 

Arcum tendere et sagittas mit- 
tere lucrum vel laborem sig- 
("To bear arms in dreams signi- 
fies security ; 

To draw bow and shoot arrows 
signifies gain or labor.") 

Bodleian 177 (Bernard 2072), 
latp 14th century, fol. 64r, opens 


frequency.^ These Latin Dream-Books do not go into de- 
tails of politics like the Byzantine books which Liutprand 
described. The simplest form, which we have already men- 
tioned in speaking of the Moon-Books of the tenth and elev- 
enth centuries, is according to the days of the moon.^ It is 
often embodied in the fuller versions. Their usual arrange- 
ment is an alphabetical list of objects seen in dreams with a 
line of interpretation for each and perhaps a page for each 
letter of the alphabet. Sample lines are : 

Aereni serenum videre lucrum significat 

("To see a clear sky signifies gain") 

Intestina sua videre secreta manifesta 

("To see one's own intestines means secrets revealed") 

This alphabetical arrangement already appears in the early 
manuscripts.^ Sometimes, however, the procedure is by 
opening the Psalter at random, taking the first letter on the 
page opened to, and then referring to a list where the let- 
ters of the alphabet have various significations, such as "A 
signifies power of delight," "B signifies victory in war." * 
This last method might, of course, be employed without 
having any dream at all, and perhaps should not be regarded 
as a Dream-Book. It is interesting to note that in one manu- 
script it is called Experiments of Daniel. In these books of 

somewhat differently, "Danielem of tenth century, fol. 16, "Som- 

prophetam cum esset in Babilonia nium Danielis prophete. Luna I. 

petebant principes," and its first Quidquid videris ad gaudium per- 

two lines of interpretation are : tinet. Luna II et III et IIII. 

"Aves cum se pugnare videre Bonus affectus erit," etc. 

fecundiam significat; 'Tiberius A-III, fols. 25V-30V; 
Aves in sompniis apprehendere Titus D-XXVI, fols. iiv-i6r; 
lucrum significat." Sloane 475, fols. 2i7v-2i8r, break- 
("To see birds fight among them- ing off in the midst of the letter 
selves signifies fecundity ; B. In Harleian 3017, fol. iv-. 
To catch birds in one's dreams however, the lines of interpreta- 
signifies gain.") tion are not in alphabetical order. 
* For a printed edition see the * This is the method in the sec- 
second item in the preceding note. ond part of the printed edition 
CLM 7806, 14th century, fol. numbered IA.87S4 in the British 
153. where as in the printed edi- Museum. See also : BN 7453, 
tion it follows a Dream-Book of 14th century, 1 3, Ars psalterii a 
Daniel. Daniele inventa; BN 7349, 15th 
Vatican Palat. 330, 15th century, century, Danielis experimenta sive 
fol. 303V. modus divinandi ad aperturam 
'For instance, Chartres 90, end psalterii et conjiciendi per somnia. 



Daniel further instructions are sometimes given, as when 
it is stated that dreams which occur before midnight are of 
no value for purposes of interpretation, or when one is told 
before opening the Psalter to repeat on bended knees a Lord's 
Prayer, Ave Maria, and Miserere. Days to be observed are 
also sometimes mentioned as a sort of accompaniment to the 
Dream-Book: forty dangerous days "which the masters of 
the Greeks have tested by experiment," ^ "bromantic days" 
from the twenty-fourth of November to the eighteenth of 
December, and "perentalic days" from the first of January 
to the first of March. "And these are the days when the 
leaves fall from the trees," which is apparently supposed to 
have a disturbing effect upon the clarity of dreams.^ 
Sompniale A Sompniale dilucidariiim Pharaonis, as it is entitled in 

dariuin *^^ manuscript of it which I have examined,^ or Morale 
Pha- soninimn Pharaonis, as it is called in the printed editions,* 

was addressed by a John of Limoges ^ to Theobald, King 
of Navarre and Count of Champagne and Brie, who died in 
12 16.® It is really not a Dream-Book but a series of imag- 
inary and fulsomely rhetorical letters between Pharaoh and 
his Magi, Pharaoh and Joseph, and Joseph and adulators and 
detractors. John states in his introductory letter to Theo- 
bald that the famous dream of Pharaoh will here be "mor- 
ally expounded concerning royal discipline." Pharaoh typi- 
fies any curious king; Egypt stands for any studious king- 
dom ; Joseph represents any virtuous counselor ; and the 

* Ashmole 361, 14th century, printed at Altdorf, 1690, by J. C 
fols. 158V-IS9. Wagenseil, and in Fabricius, Cod. 

' Sloane 3281, fol. 39r; also in Pseud. Vet. Test., 1713, I, 441- 

IA.31744, except that the names 96. For letters 19 and 20 see 

are misspelled. Fabricius, Bibl. Med. et Inf. Lat., 

^ St. John's 172, isth century, 1754, IV, 91-4. 

fols. 99V-123, where the work is "Joannes Lemovicensis ; but 

rather appropriately preceded by Fabricius calls him "Joannes a 

two treatises on Ars dictaminis. Launha, Lemovicensis." Steele 

Our author, according to Fab- ( 1920) p. i.x, calls him "Jean de 

ricius, Bibl. Med. et Inf. Lat., Launha or de Limoges." 

Padua, 1754, IV, 90, also wrote 'Steele (1920) p. ix, however, 

De Stylo dictionario. Other MSS says, "but modern scholars put the 

of the Sompniale are CUL Dd. iv. date as about 1250, a much more 

35, 15th century, fols. 49r-73v, and probable one." Steele does not 

li. vi. 34. add his references or reasons for 

* The first 18 letters were this statement. 



dream will be interpolated with flowers of rhetoric and 

More elaborate and making more pretense to philosoph- 
ical character than the brief Dream-Books of Daniel is 
an anonymous work on dreams contained in a Paris manu- 
script of apparently the later part of the thirteenth century.^ 
It is the first treatise in the manuscript, which further con- 
tains two important works of the first half of the twelfth 
century, namely, the Imago mundi of Honorius of Autun 
and the De phUosophia of William of Conches. The texts 
of these two latter works are much cut up and intermixed 
with each other. It is therefore not unlikely that the opening 
treatise on dreams is also a work of the twelfth century, al- 
though there does not seem to be much reason for ascribing it 
either to Honorius of Autun or William of Conches. A long 
prohemiiim fails to throw much light upon the personality of 
the author , but the work does not seem to be a translation. 
That it is not earlier than the twelfth century is indicated 
by its citation of the Viaticum and Passionariits, presum- 
ably the well known medical works of Constantine Af- 
ricanus and Gariopontus," — unless indeed it be by Constan- 
tinus himself, to some of whose views it shows a resemblance. 

The preface opens by stating that a desirable treasure 
lies hidden in the heart of the wise but that it is of no utility 
unless it is revealed. In other words, dreams must be in- 

* BN 1661O, fols. 2T-24T, Ex- 

positio somniorum. It opens, "The- 
saurus occultus requiescit in 
corde sapientis et immo desidera- 
bilis sed in thesauro occulto et 
in sapientia abscondita nulla pene 
utilitas ergo revelanda sunt ab- 
scondita et patefacienda que sunt 
occulta." It closes, ". . . ventus 
si flavit in hyeme calidus fructus 
frugisque in illo loco erit copia 
frigidus et acer (?) ventus in 
hyeme visus per sompnium con- 
trarium in messe significat si 
frigidus. Explicit expositio som- 

The mistakes made in the text 
in such matters as case-endings 
and abbreviations indicate that 

An anony- 
mous Ex- 
position of 

our MS is not by the hand of the 
author but by that of some later 
and careless copyist. A number 
of corrections of the text have 
been made in the margin or be- 
tween the lines, and apparently 
the same hand has written in the 
margin or between the lines a 
number of headings to indicate 
the contents. These occur chiefly, 
however, towards the close of the 

' BN 16610, f ol. 7v, "Fiunt pre- 
terea sompnia secundum quali- 
tates ciborum et humorum a 
quibus et certissima signa ut 
diximus cuiusque infirmitatis capi- 
untur sicut in viatico et passio- 
nario demonstrantur." 

origin of 



Origin and 
tion of 
the art of 

of the 

terpreted. The author regards dreams, hke thoughts in 
general, as beginning with the spiritns which rises from the 
heart and ascends through two arteries to the brain. ^ Our 
author perhaps still holds to Aristotle's view of the impor- 
tance of the heart in the nervous system as against Galen's 
exclusive emphasis upon the brain, since he allots the heart 
a share even in mental processes ; and he seems to be igno- 
rant of Galen's discovery that the arteries contain blood and 
not spiritiis. 

The preface goes on to justify the study of dreams on 
the ground that "the most ancient Magi and perfect phy- 
sicians" thereby adjudged to each man health and sickness, 
Hfe and death. "Medicine and divine thoughts, dreams, 
visions, or oracles are not prohibited, but demoniacal incan- 
tations, sorcery, lot-castings, insomnia, and vain phantasms 
are condemned that you may not readily trust in them." " 
No doctrine is to be spurned wholesale, but only what is 
vicious in it. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego excelled 
all the Magi and soothsayers of the Chaldeans. Our author 
explains that among the Chaldeans then as today learning 
consisted not of the philosophy and sophistry of the Greeks 
and Latins, but of astronomy and interpretations of dreams. 
He alludes to a prayer of seven verses which they repeat 
when going to bed in order to receive responses in dreams. 
They pay little heed to the superficial meaning of their 
dreams, but by examining the inner meaning they learn either 
past or future. The author exhorts the person to whom he 
addresses the preface to do the same, laying aside all terrors 
that dreams may arouse in him. He points out that inter- 
pretation of dreams has Biblical sanction and that Joseph, 
Daniel, and Marduch all profited thereby. 

As for the present treatise, it is collected from divine 
and human scripture, based upon experience as well as rea- 

^ The point is repeated in the 
text proper at fol. 4r. In the 
preface at fol. 2r the author also 
states that a small boy can be 
put into a stupor when standing 

up> by pressing his arteries be- 
tween the thumb and forefinger so 
that "the vapor of the heart 
cannot ascend to the brain." 
^Ibid., fol. 3r. 



son, and drawn from Latins, Greeks, Persians, and the an- 
nals of Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar in which many of their 
dreams are recorded, for the}' were both lovers of the fu- 
ture and, since they had no philosophers like the Gentiles, 
God allowed them as a compensation to foresee the future 
in dreams. For by dreams life and death, poverty and riches, 
sickness and health, sorrow and joy, flight and victory, are 
known more easily than through astrology, a more difficult 
and manifold art.^ But lest his introduction grow too long, 
the author at this point ends it and begins the text proper. 

After stating what a dream is, the author discusses the 
origin and causes of dreams further. Some are from the 
devil or at least are influenced by demons, as when a monk 
was led to become a Jew by a dream in which he saw Moses 
with a chorus of angels in white, while Christ was sur- 
rounded by men in black. But when we see chimeras in 
dreams, this is generally due to impurity of the blood. The 
author also opines that, while the sage can judge from the 
nature of the dream whether there is fallacy and illusion of 
the demon in it, the origin of virtues and vices is mainly in 
ourselves. He who goes to sleep with an easy conscience is 
unlikely to be disturbed by nightmares and is more likely in 
quiet slumber to behold secrets and mysteries. The author 
next discusses the effect of the passions and exercise of the 
mental faculties upon the liver, heart, and brain. He adopts 
the common medieval view that the brain contains three ven- 
tricles devoted respectively to imagination, reason, and mem- 
ory. He explains that the so-called incubus, popularly 
thought of as a dwarf or satyr who sits on the sleeper, is 
really a feeling of suffocation produced by blood-pressure 
near the heart. The interpretation of a dream must vary 
according to the social rank of the person concerned. As 
images in a mirror deceive the ordinary observer but are 
readily accounted for by the geometer, and as the philoso- 
pher notes the significations of other planets than the sun 
and moon, whose effects alone impress tne vulgar herd, so 

'BN 16610, fol. 3v. 

and natu- 
ral causes 
of dreams. 




of Aragon 


there are dreams which only a skilled interpreter can ex- 
plain. Dreams are affected by food and by the humors pre- 
vailing in the body, and also by the occult virtues of gems, 
of which a list is given from "Evax" or Marbod.^ 

The second book takes up again the varying significa- 
tions of dreams according to the person concerned, and also 
the significance of the time of the dream. The four sea- 
sons, the phases of the moon, nativity of the dreamer, and 
hour of the night are discussed. The remaining two-thirds 
of the treatise consists in stating the interpretation to be 
placed upon the varied persons and things seen in dreams, 
beginning with God and Jesus Christ, and continuing with 
crucifixes, idols, statues, bells, hell, the resurrection of the 
dead, and so on and so forth. Early mention of eunuchs 
and icons suggests a Byzantine source. More especially in 
the last third of the treatise, various marginal headings 
indicate that the interpretations are "according to the In- 
dians" or "according to the Persians and Egyptians," which 
suggests that use is being made of the work of Achmet or 
of Leo Tuscus' translation thereof. 

The influence of Achmet's work is also seen in a treatise 
on the prognostication of dreams compiled by master Will- 
iam of Aragon.^ It opens by referring to the labors in this 
art of the ancient philosophers of India, Persia, Egypt, and 
Greece, and later it cites Smarchas the Indian,^ whom I take 
to be the same as the Strbachan of Achmet's second chapter. 
WilHam justifies writing his treatise by saying that while 
there may be many Dream-Books in existence already, they 
are mere Practice and without reason, while he intends to 
base the prediction of the future from dreams upon rational 

^ BN 16610, fols. 4r-8r. In my 
summary I have followed the 
order of the text for the first 

* BN 7486, fols. 2-i6r, "Incipit 
liber de pronosticationibus somp- 
niorum a magistro Guillelmo de 
aragonia compilatus. Philoso- 
phantes antiques sive yndos sive 
persos sive egyptios sive grecos." 

St. John's 172, early 15th cen- 
tury, fols. 140-52, where it appears 

It is listed in the 15th century 
catalogue of MSS in St. Augus- 
tine's Abbey, Canterbury, 1545, 
Tractatus W. de Arrogon de in- 
terpretatione sompniorum. 

' Simarchardus, as printed in 
the works of .\rnald of Villanova. 



speculation, and to support his particular reasoning by 
specific examples.^ He makes more use of Aristotle's classi- 
fication of dreams - than the anonymous work just consid- 
ered, from which he further differs in dwelling more upon 
the connection of dreams with the constellations.^ The 
second part of his treatise consists of twelve chapters de- 
voted to the twelve astrological houses.^ Earlier he men- 
tions that at the nativity of Alexander an eagle with ex- 
tended wings rested all day on the roof of the palace of his 
father Philip.^ In stating the signification of various ob- 
jects William has a chapter on what different parts of the 
human body signify when seen in dreams.® Like our pre- 
vious works on divination from dreams, he lays considerable 
stress upon experience, illustrating his statement that dreams 
are often due to bodily ills by cases which "I have seen," '^ 
and also asserting that it is shown by experience that dreams 
seen on the first four days of the week are most quickly 

This William of Aragon is no doubt the same who com- 
mented upon the Centiloquium ascribed to Ptolemy.^ From 
his medical experience and his tendency to give an astro- 
logical explanation for everything one is tempted to identify 
him further with the William Anglicus or William of Mar- 
seilles who wrote the treatise of astrological medicine en- 
titled, Of Urine Unseen, in the year 12 19, but it is of course 
unlikely that the same man would be called of Aragon as 
well as of England and Marseilles or that the words 
Anglicus and Aragonia should be confused by copyists. 

The treatise on dreams has been printed among the 
works of Arnald of Villanova,^" a physician who interpreted 
dreams for the kings of Aragon and Sicily at the end of 
the thirteenth century, under the title Expositio (or, Ex- 

* St. John's 172, fol. 14OV. 
'BN 7486, fols. 3v-4r. 
'Ibid., fols. 4v-6v. 
*Ihid., fols. ior-i6r. 
" Ibid., fol. 6r. 
"Ibid., fol. 7v. 

Ubid., fol. gr. 

*Ibid., fol. 9v. 

• Harleian i, 13- 14th century, 
fol. 76V-. 

" See below for a chapter con- 
cerning him. 

Who was 
Aragon ? 

His work 
to Arnald 
of Villa- 



work on 

positiones) visionum quae Hunt in somniis} The Histoire 
Litteraire de la France " has noted that in the manuscript 
copies the work was anonymous and not ascribed to 
Arnald, but I believe that I am the first to identify it with 
the work of WilHam of Aragon. 

In the same manuscript with the Sompniale dilncidarium 
Pharaonis and the work of William of Aragon on dreams 
just described is another long anonymous work on the inter- 
pretation of dreams.^ It makes the usual points that the 
meaning of dreams varies with times and persons. But the 
treatise consists chiefly ^ of a mass of significations which 
are not even arranged in alphabetical order, a failing which 
it is attempted to remedy by an alphabetical index at the 
close. ^ 

*In the edition of Lyons, 1532, 
at fols. 290-2. 

' HL 28, 76-7- 

'St. John's 172, fols. i53-209r, 
"Summus opifex deus qui post- 
quam homines ad ymaginem suam 
plasmaverit animam rationalem 
cidem coniunxerit ratione cuius 

malum a bono discernit suum 
creatorem laudando unde anima 
futura in sompniis comprehendit 
sive bonum sive malum in pos- 
terum futurum. . . ." 

* Ibid., fols. 153V-208V. 

°Ibid., fols. 209v-2i2r. 


Chapter 51 

" 52 
" 53 
" 54 
" 55 
" 56 
" 57 

" 59 


Michael Scot. 

William of Auvergne. 

Thomas of Cantimpre. 

Bartholomew of England. 

Robert Grosseteste. 

Vincent of Beauvais. 

Early Thirteenth Century Medicine : Gilbert 

of England and William of England. 
Petrus Hispanus. 
Albertus Magnus. 
I. Life. 

n. As a scientist, 
in. His allusions to magic. 
IV. Marvelous virtues in nature. 

V. Attitude toward astrology. 
Thomas Aquinas. 
Roger Bacon. 



of and part in medieval 


III. His experimental science. 

IV. Attitude toward magic and astrology. 
V. Conclusion. 

62. The Speculum Astronomiae. 

63. Three Treatises Ascribed to xA.lbert. 

64. Experiments and Secrets of Galen, Rasis, and 

Others: I. Medical and Biological. 


Chapter 65. 




Experiments and Secrets of Galen, Rasis, and 

Others: II. Chemical and Magical. 

Guido Bonatti and Bartholomew of Parma. 
Arnald of Villanova. 
Raymond Lull. 
Peter of Abano, 
Cecco d'Ascoli. 



In our preceding book on the twelfth century we included 
some writers, like Alexander Neckam, who lived on a few 
years into the following century but whose works were 
probably written in the twelfth. We now, with Michael 
Scot, begin to treat of authors whose period of literary pro- 
ductivity dates after 1200. We shall endeavor to consider 
the various authors and works in something like chronolog- 
ical order, but this is often difficult to determine and in one 
or two cases we shall purposely disregard strict chronology 
in order to bring works of the same sort together. Our 
last four chapters on Arnald of Villanova, Raymond Lull, 
Peter of Abano, and Cecco d'Ascoli carry us over the 
threshold of the fourteenth century, the death of the last- 
named not occurring until 1327. 

Greater voluminousness and thoroughness mark the 
work of these writers as compared with those of the twelfth 
century. The work of translation has been partly accom- 
plished; that of compilation, reconciliation, criticism, and 
further personal investigation and experimentation proceeds 
more rapidly and extensively. The new Friar Orders in- 
vade the world of learning as of everything else: of the 
writers whose names head the following chapters Bartholo- 
mew of England and Roger Bacon were Franciscans ; ^ 
Thomas of Cantimpre, Vincent of Beauvais, Albertus Mag- 
nus, and Thomas Aquinas were Dominicans. In these rep- 
resentatives of the new religious Orders, however, theology 

* Little that is new on the theme Studien tin Fransiskanerorden 
of the Franciscans and learning is bis urn die Mitte dcs 13 Jahrhun- 
contributed by H. Felder, Ge- derts, Freiburg, 1904 
schirhte dcr wissensrliaftlichen 



cannot be said to absorb attention at the expense of natural 
science. The prohibitions of the study of the works of Aris- 
totle in the field of natural philosophy by the University of 
Paris early in the century preceded the friars and were not 
lasting, and the mid-century struggle of the friars with the 
other teachers at Paris ^ was one over privilege and organi- 
zation rather than tenets. Teachers and writers were, how- 
ever, sometimes condemned for their intellectual views at 
Paris and elsewhere in the thirteenth century, and whether 
the study of natural science and astrology was persecuted 
is a question which will arise more than once. In any case 
the friars seem to have declined in scientific prowess as in 
other respects toward the close of the century. Petrus His- 
panus, who became Pope John XXI in 1276- 1277, had not 
been a friar himself, and is said to have been more favor- 
able to men of learning than to the regular clergy. Finally, 
in Guido Bonatti, Arnald of Villanova, Peter of Abano, and 
Cecco d'Ascoli we come to laymen, physicians and astrolo- 
gers, who were to some extent either anti-clerical themselve: 
or the object of clerical attack. 

This was the century in which Roger Bacon launched 
his famous eulogy of experimental science. A good-sized 
fleet of passages recognizing its importance will be found, 
however, in our other authors, and we shall need to devote 
two chapters to experimental books which were either 
anonymous or pretended to date back to ancient or Arabic 
authors. And not without some justification, since we have 
been tracing the history of experimental science through 
our previous books. 

* Concerning it consult F. X. the Middle Ages, I, v, 2, "The 

Seppelt, Dcr Kampf der Bettclor- Mendicants and the University" ; 

den an die Univcrsitdt Paris in or P. Feret, La faculte de thc- 

dcr Mitte des 13 Jahrhunderts, ologie de Paris: moyen age, Paris, 

Breslau, 1905, in Kirchengcsch. 1894-1897, 4 vols.; and other 

Abliandl., Ill; or H. Rashdall, works listed by Paetow (1917),?. 

The Universities of Europe in 441. 



Bibliographical note — Michael Scot and Frederick II — Some dates 
in Michael's career — Michael Scot and the papacy — Prominent position 
in the world of learning — Relation to the introduction of the new Aris- 
totle — Thirteenth century criticism of Michael Scot — General estimate 
of his learning — God and the stars — A theological digression — The 
three Magi — Astrology distinguished from magic — The magic arts — 
Experiments of magic — History of astronomy — The spirits in the sky, 
air, and earth — Occult medicine — The seven regions of the air — 
Michael's miscellaneous content — Further astrological doctrine — Omis- 
sion of nativities — Magic for every hour — Quaint religious science — 
The Phisionomia — Influence of the stars on human generation — Dis- 
cussion of divination — Divination from dreams — Works of divination 
ascribed to Michael Scot — Medical writings — Occult virtues — Astrology 
n the Commentary on the Sphere — Dionysius the Areopagite and the 
solar eclipse during Christ's passion — Alchemy — Works of alchemy 
ascribed to Michael Scot — Brother Elias and alchemy — Liber luminis 
luminum and De alchemia — Their further characteristics. 

But little can be said with certainty concerning the life of Michael 
Michael Scot.^ However, a poem by Henry of Avranches, Freder- 
ick II. 

^ James Wood Brown, An in- Bodleian 266, 15th century, 218 
qiiiry into the life and legend of fols. "Quicumque vult esse 
Michael Scot, Edinburgh, 1897. bonus astrologus .../... 
While this book has been sharply finitur tractatus de notitia pro- 
criticized (for instance, by H. nosticorum." This is the MS 
Niese in HZ, CVIII (1912), p. which I have used. 
497) and has its failings, such as CLM 10268, 14th century, 146 
an unsatisfactory method of pre- fols. Described by F. Boll 
senting its citations and author- (1903), p. 439. I tried to in- 
ities, it gives, obscured by much spect this MS when I was in 
verbiage intended to make the Munich in 1912 but it had been 
book interesting and popular and loaned out of the library at 
much fanciful speculation as to that time. 

what may have been, a mort reli- Brown further mentions BN 

able account of Michael's life and nouv. acq. 1401 and an Escorial 

a fuller bibliography of his writ- MS of the 14th century which 

ings than had existed previously. I presume is the same as Es- 

But it must be used with caution. corial F-III-8, 14th century, 

fols. T-126, "Incipit prohemium 

Liber introductorius: extant only libri introductorii quern edidit 

in MSS, of which some are: Michael Scotus," etc. 




The following are perhaps ex- 
tracts from the Liber Introduc- 

BN 14070, I3th-i4th-i5th century, 
fol. 112-, Mich. Scoti de notitia 
conjunctionis mundi terrestris 
cum celesti ; fol. 115-, Eiusdem 
de presagiis stellarum. 

Vienna 3124, 15th century, fols. 
206-11, "Capitulum de hiis quae 
generaliter significantur in par- 
tibus duodecim celi sive domi- 

Vatican 4087, fol. 38r, "Explicit 
liber quem edidit micael scotus 
de signis et ymaginibus celi." 

See also MSS mentioned by 
Brown at p. 27, note 2. 

Liber particularis, or Astro- 
nomia; also extant only in 

Canon. Misc. S5S, early 14th cen- 
tury, fols. 1-59. "Cum ars as- 
tronomic sit grandis sermonibus 
philosophorum. . . . This is the 
MS I have used; others are: 

Escorial E-III-iS, 14th century, 
fols. 41-51, Michaelis Scoti ars 
astronomiae ad Federicum im- 
peratorem II. 

CLM 10663, i8th century, 261 
fols., Michael Scot, Astro- 

At Milan, Ambros. L. 92. 

Phisionomia: eighteen editions 
are said to have appeared be- 
tween 1477 and 1660. I have 
used the following text : 

Michael Scot, De sccrctis naturae, 
Amsterdam, 1740, where it fol- 
lows at pp. 204-328 the De se- 
cretis muliertim and other treat- 
ises ascribed to Albertus Mag- 

It occurs at fols. 59-88 of Canon. 
Misc. 555, immediately after 
the Liber particularis, and is 
found in other MSS. 

Commentary on The Sphere of 

Eximii atqiie excellentissimi phy- 
sicorum motuum cursusque side- 
rei indagatoris Michaelis Scoti 
super auctorcm sperae cum 
qucstionibus diligenter emenda- 
tis incipit expositio confecta II- 

lustrissimi Imperatoris Dili D. 
Fedrici precibus, Bologna, 1495. 
I have also used an edition of 
1518, and there are others. 

Liber lumen luminum. 

Riccardian 119, fols. 35v-37r, 
"Incipit liber luminis luminum 
translatus a magistro michahele 
scoto philosopho." 

Printed by Brown (1897), Ap- 
pendix III, pp. 240-68. 

I presume it is the same as the 
Lumen luminiim ascribed to 
Rasis in BN 6517 and 7156 — see 
Berthelot (1893), I, 68— but I 
have not compared them. 

In the same Riccard. 119 at fol. 
i66r is a Liber lumen luminum 
ascribed to Brother Elias, gen- 
eral of the Franciscans. "In- 
cipit liber alchimicalis quem 
frater helya edidit apud frede- 
ricum Imperatorem. Liber lu- 
men luminum translatus de sar- 
raceno ac arabico in latinum a 
fratre cypriano ac compositus 
in latinum a generali fratrum 
minorum super alchimicis. In- 
cipit liber qui lumen luminum 
dicitur ex libris medicorum et 
experimentis et philosophorum 
et disciplinarum ex(t)ranea- 

De alchimia (or, alchemia) 
Corpus Christi 125, fols. 97V-100V, 
Michaelis Scoti ad Theophilum 
Saracenorum regem "de alke- 
mia." "Explicit tractatus ma- 
gistri michaelis Scoti de alke." 

The above-mentioned books 
and manuscripts are those espe- 
cially discussed and utilized in 
the present chapter. The follow- 
ing may be noted, since they are 
omitted by Brown, although they 
have little to do with our inves- 
tigation : 

Mensa philosophica. Of this brief 
work ascribed to Michael Scot 
several incunabula exist in the 
library of the British Museum. 

Amplon. Folio 179, 14th century, 
fols. 98-99, "Liber translative 
theologie de decern kathego- 
riis." The attribution of this 


addressed to the emperor Frederick II in 1235 or 1236,^ 
shows that Michael was then dead and that he apparently- 
had occupied the position of astrologer at the court of Fred- 
erick II at the time of his death. The poet explains how 
astrologers (mathematici) "reveal the secrets of things," 
by their art affecting numbers, by numbers affecting the 
procession of the stars, and by the stars moving the uni- 
verse. He recalls having heard "certain predictions con- 
cerning you, O Caesar, from Michael Scot who was a scruti- 
nizer of the stars, an augur, a soothsayer, a second Apollo" ; 
and then tells how "the truthful diviner Michael" ceased to 
publish his secrets to the world, and "the announcer of fates 
submitted to fate," apparently in the midst of some predic- 
tion made on his death-bed. Michael's own statements also 
show that he was one of Frederick's astrologers.^ If at 
the time of his death Michael was Frederick's astrologer, it 
is more questionable at what date his association with Fred- 
erick began, and in what countries Michael resided with the 
emperor, or accompanied him to, whether Sicily, southern 
Italy, northern Italy, or Germany. From the fact that three 
of Michael Scot's works, or rather, the three chief divisions 
of his longest extant work,^ namely, Liber Introductorius, 
Liber Particularis, and Phisionomia, were written at the 
request of Frederick II for beginners ^ and apparently in 
the time of Innocent III,^ J. Wood Brown jumped to the 
conclusion that Michael was Frederick's tutor before that 
monarch came of age, and that he spent some time in the 
island of Sicily, from which Brown failed to distinguish 

to Michael Scot might be taken scotum sibi fidelem inter ceteros 

to support the tradition that he astrologos domestice advocavit." 
was a doctor of theology at * That they are sections of one 

Paris. work is made clear from his 

' The poem is printed in For- statement at the end of the long 

schungcn zur deutschen Ge- preface to all three : Bodleian 266, 

schichte, XVIII (1878), p. 486. fol. 25V; Boll (1903), P- 439, 

Yet Cantor II (1913), p. 7, has quotes the same passage from 

Michael outlive Frederick and CLM 10268. 
transfer his residence to the * "Scolares novitii." 

court of Edward I of England. "The MSS say "Innocent IV," 

' Canon. Misc. 555, fol. 44V, but Michael had died before his 

"Quadam vice me michaelem pontificate. 



dates in 

Frederick's larger kingdom of Sicily.^ As a matter of fact, 
there would seem to be rather more evidence for connecting 
Michael with Salerno than with any Sicilian city, since in 
one manuscript of his translation for the emperor of the 
work of Avicenna on animals he is spoken of as "an astrono- 
mer of Salerno," " while in another manuscript he is asso- 
ciated with a Philip, clerk of the king of Sicily, and this 
royal notary in two deeds of 1200 is called Philip of 
Salerno.^ Brown was inclined to identify him further with 
Philip of Tripoli, the translator of the pseudo-Aristotelian 
Secret of Secrets. 

No date in Michael's career before the thirteenth century 
is fixed. If it is true that the three sections of his main work 
were written under Innocent III, that places them between 
1 198 and 1216. The date of his translation of the as- 
tronomical work of Alpetragius or Alpetrangi (Niir ed-din 
el-Betrugi, Abu Ishaq) seems to have been in the year 12 17 
on Friday, August 18, in the third hour and at Toledo.* 

* Brown (1897), chapter II. 
Criticized by H. Niese in His- 
torische Zcitschrift, vol. 108 
(1912), p. 497, note 3; 

' Bologna University Library 
693, i6th century, "Michaelis 
Scoti astronomi Salernitani liber 
de animalibus. Incipit liber pri- 
mus de animalibus Avicenne 
rubrica. Frederice domine mundi 
Romanorum Imperator, suscipe 
devote hunc laborem Michaelis 

^ Laurentian P. Ixxxix, sup. cod. 
38, 15th century, p. 409; printed 
in Brown (1897), PP- 231-4. Con- 
cerning Philip see also Brown, 
pp. 19, 36-7. The important pas- 
sage in the MS is, "Explicit 
nicromantiae experimentum illus- 
trissimi doctoris Domini Magistri 
Michaelis Scoti, qui summus inter 
alios nominatur Magister, qui 
fuit Scotus, et servus praeclaris- 
simo Domino Philipo Regis 
Ceciliae coronato ; quod destina- 
vit sibi dum esset aegrotus in 
civitate Cordubae, etc. Finis." 
Brown, p. iQ, translates the l?st 

clause, "which experiment he 
(i. e., Michael) contrived when 
he lay sick in the city of Cor- 
dova," and so concludes that Scot 
visited that city ; but I should 
translate it, "which he (Michael) 
sent to him (Philip) while he 
(Philip) lay sick in the city of 
Cordova." Otherwise why is 
Philip mentioned at all? 

* Brown, p. 104, citing Jourdain, 
Recherchcs, p. 133, who called at- 
tention to two Paris MSS, 
Anciens fonds 7399 and Fonds de 
Sorbonne 1820, in one of which 
the MS is dated 1217, while the 
other gives the year as 1255 which 
is the exactly corresponding year 
of the Spanish era. Arsenal 1035. 
14th century, fol. 112, a MS not 
noted by Jourdain or Brown, 
states the year as 1207 A. D., but 
this is evidently a mistake for 
1217, since it gives the same day 
of the week and month as the 
other MSS and August i8th fell 
on Friday in 1217, but not in 
1207. BN 16654, 13th century, 
fol. 2>iy gives the date as 1217. 


Brown holds that Michael translated Avicenna on animals 
in 12 10 for Frederick II and that the emperor kept it to 
himself until 1232, when he allowed Henry of Cologne to 
copy it.^ But the date 12 10 perhaps applies only to a glos- 
sary of Arabic terms which accompanies the work and 
which is ascribed to a "Master Al." - In a thirteenth cen- 
tury manuscript at Cambridge Michael Scot's translation of 
Aristotle's History of Animals is accompanied by a note 
which begins, "And I Michael Scot who translated this book 
into Latin swear that in the year 1221 on Wednesday, Oc- 
tober twenty-first," ^ The note and date, however, do not 
refer to the completion of the translation but to a consulta- 
tion in which a woman showed him two stones like eggs 
which came from another woman's womb and of which he 
gives a painstakingly detailed description. There is, how- 
ever, something wrong with the date, since in 1221 the 
twenty-first of October fell on Thursday.* 

The career of Michael Scot affords an especially good Michael 
illustration of how little likelihood there was of anyone's and the 
being persecuted by the medieval church for belief in or papacy, 
practice of astrology. Michael, although subordinating the 
stars to God and admitting human free will, as we shall 
see, both believed in the possibility of astrological predic- 
tion and made such predictions himself. Yet he was a 
clergyman, perhaps even a doctor of theology,^ as well as a 
court astrologer, and furthermore was a clergyman of suffi- 
cient rank and prominence to enable Pope Honorius III to 
procure in 1224 his election to the archbishopric of Cashel 
in Ireland.^ At the same time the papal curia issued a dis- 

^ P. 55, arguing from a Vatican * Perhaps the year is correct, 

MS which is described at pp. but "xii kal." should be "xiii leal." 

235-7- °HL XX, 47; Brown (1897), P- 

* "Glosa magistri al. Explicit 14 ; both citing Du Boulay, Hist. 

anno domini mccx." univ. Paris., 1656-1675. 

' Gonville and Caius 109, fols. * See Denifle et Chatelain, Char- 

I02v-I03r, written in a different tulariiim Univcrsitatis Parisiensis, 

hand from the text of the History 1889, I, 104, for a letter of 

of Anifnals, "Et iuro ego michael Honorius III of January 16, 1224, 

scotus qui dedi hunc librum latini- asking Stephen Langton, arch- 

tati quod in anno MCCXXI, xii bishop of Canterbury, to secure a 

kal. novembr. die mercurii. . , ." benefice for Michael Scot whom 



position in 
the world 
of learn- 

to the in- 
of the new 

pensation permitting Michael to hold a plurality, so that he 
evidently already occupied some desirable benefice. Michael 
declined the archbishopric of Cashel, on the ground that 
he was ignorant of the native language but perhaps because 
he preferred a position in England; for we find the papicy 
renewing its efforts in his behalf, and Gregory IX on April 
28. 1227, again wrote to Stephen Langton, archbishop of 
Canterbury, urging him to make provision for "master 
Michael Scot," whom he characterized as "well instructed 
not only in Latin but also in the Hebrew and Arabic lan- 
guages." ^ 

Whether Michael ever secured the additional foreign 
benefice or not, he seems to have remained in Italy with 
Frederick until the end of his days. He also seems to have 
continued prominent among men of learning, since in 1228 
Leonardo of Pisa dedicated to him the revised and enlarged 
version of his Liber abaci,^ important in connection with 
the introduction of the Hindu-Arabic numerals into western 

Roger Bacon in the Opus Mains ^ in a passage often 
cited by historians of medieval thought ascribes the intro- 
duction of the new Aristotle into western Latin Christendom 
to Michael Scot who, he says, appeared in 1230 A. D. with 
portions of the works of Aristotle in natural philosophy and 
metaphysics. Before his time there were only the works 
on logic and a few others translated by Boethius from the 
Greek; since 1230 the philosophy of Aristotle "has been 
magnified among the Latins." Although many writers have 
quoted this statement as authoritative in one way or another, 
it must now be regarded as valuable only as one more illus- 
tration of the loose and misleading- character of most of 

he calls "singularly gifted in 
science among men of learning" : 
and Theiner, Vetera Monumenta 
Hibernorum et Scotorum, Rome, 
1864, p. 23, for a letter of Hon- 
orius III of June in the same year, 
stating that MiLhael has declined 
the archbishopric of Cashel and 
appointing another man. Brown 

has incorrectly dated both letters 
in 1223. 

' Denifle and Chatelain, I, no. 

'For the date and MSS see 
Boncompagni, Intorno ad alcune 
opcrc di Leonardo Pisano, Rome, 
1854, pp. 2 and 129-30. 

^Bridges (1897) I, 55; in Jebb's 
edition, pp. 35-6. 


Roger's allusions to past learning and to the work of pre- 
vious translators. We know that the books of Aristotle on 
natural philosophy had become so well known by that time 
that in 1210 the study of them was forbidden at the uni- 
versity of Paris, and that about that same year, according 
to Rigord's chronicle of the reign of Philip II, the books 
of Metaphysics of Aristotle were brought from Constanti- 
nople, translated from Greek into Latin, and began to be 
read at Paris. ^ But Bacon's date is more than twenty years 
too late, and we have already mentioned the translation of 
The Secret of Secrets, which Bacon regarded as genuine, the 
acquaintance of Alexander Neckam with works of Aris- 
totle, Alfred of England's translation of the De vegetabili- 
btis and of three additional chapters to the Meteorology, 
the still earlier translation of the rest of that work by 
Aristippus from the Greek and by Gerard of Cremona from 
the Arabic, and Gerard's numerous other translations of 
works of Aristotle in natural philosophy. The translations 
of Gerard and Aristippus take us back to the middle of the 
twelfth century nearly a century before the date set by 
Bacon for the introduction of the new Aristotle.^ Michael 
Scot, then, did not introduce the works of Aristotle on nat- 
ural science and Bacon's chronological recollections are 
obviously too faulty for us to accept the date 1230 as of any 
exact significance in even Michael's own career, to say noth- 
ing of the history of the translation of Aristotle. 

This is not to say that Michael was not of some impor- 
tance in that process, since he did translate works of Aris- 
totle and his Arabic commentators, especially Avicenna and 
Averroes. Frederick II is sometimes said to have ordered 
the translation from Greek and Arabic of such works of 

^ Rigordus de Gestis Philippi ' P. Duhem, "Du temps ou la 

//; quoted in the Leo XIII edi- Scolastique latine a connu la phy- 

tion of Aquinas, Rome, 1882, vol. sique d'Aristote," in Revue de 

I, p. cclix, "legi Parisiis coepisse philosophie, August, 1909, pp. 163- 

libellos quosdam aristotelis, qui 78, argues that the Physics was 

docebant metaphysicum, de novo known to Latins in the twelfth 

Constantinopoli delatos et a graeco century, 
in latinum translatos." 


Aristotle and other philosophers as had not yet been trans- 
lated from Greek or Arabic.^ But the letter which has been 
ascribed in this connection to Frederick is really by his son 
and successor, Manfred,^ for whom many translations were 
made, including several Aristotelian treatises, genuine and 
spurious, by Bartholomew of Messina. Already, however, 
in 123 1 and 1232 a Jew at Naples had translated Averroes' 
abridgement of the Almagest and his commentary on the 
Organon, in the latter extolling Frederick's munificence 
and love of science.^ Michael Scot has been shown to have 
translated from the Arabic the History of Animals and 
other works on animals, making nineteen books in all, and 
also Avicenna's compendium of the same, the De caelo et 
mundo, the De anima with the commentary of Averroes, 
and perhaps the Metaphysics or part of it.^ His translation 
of the De caelo et mmido was accompanied by a translation 
of Alpetrangi's commentary on the same.^ 
Thirteenth Scholars of the succeeding generation sometimes spoke 
"^10^8101 unfavorably of Michael's work. Although Roger Bacon 
of Michael recognized his translations as the central event in the Latin 
reception of the Aristotelian philosophy, and spoke of him 
as "a notable inquirer into matter, motion, and the course 
of the constellations," ^ he listed him among those trans- 
lators who "understood neither sciences nor languages, not 
even Latin," and charged more than once that a Jew named 
Andrew was really responsible for the translations credited 
to Michael.'^ Albertus Magnus asserted that Michael Scot 
"in reality was ignorant concerning nature and did not un- 

^ Petrus de Vineis III, ep. Ixvii ; companied his gift to the Uni- 

Latin cited in Dissertation 23 in versity of Paris of copies of the 

vol. I of the Rome, 1882, edition translations made for him. See 

of the works of Aquinas. Fred- Chartularium Universitatis Pari- 

erick II is not even mentioned in siensis, I, 435-6. 

Grabmann's dissertation on the ^ Renan, Averroes ct Aver- 

translation of Aristotle in the thir- ro'ismc, p. 188. 

teenth century. In the preface to * Grabmann (1916), pp. 143-4, 

his De arte venandi cum avibus 175-6, 186-7, 198- 

Frederick refuses to follow Aris- '^ BN 17155, 13th century, fol. 

totle who, he says, had little or no 225-. 

practice in falconry: Haskins, 'Brown, 145. 

EHR XXXVI (1921) 343-4. 'Brown, 119, Brewer (1859), p. 

^The letter of Manfred ac- 91. 


derstand the books of Aristotle well." ^ Yet he used 
Michael's translation of the Historia Animalium as the 
basis of his own work on the subject, often following it word 
for word.' Michael was, however, listed or cited as an 
authority by the thirteenth century encyclopedists, Thomas 
of Cantimpre, Bartholomew of England, Vincent of Beau- 
vais, and at the close of that century is frequently cited by 
the physician Amald of Villanova in his Breviarium prac- 

Michael Scot may be said to manifest some of the fail- General 
ings of the learning of his time in a rather excessive degree, ^f j^^s^*^ 
His mind, curious, credulous, and uncritical, seems to have learning, 
collected a mass of undigested information and superstition 
with little regard to consistency or system. Occasionally 
he includes the most childish and naive sort of material, as 
we shall illustrate later. He continues the Isidorean type 
of etymology, deriving the name of the month of May, for 
example, either from the majesty of Jupiter, or from the 
major chiefs of Rome who in that month were wont to 
dedicate laws to Jupiter, or from the maioribus in the sense 
of elders as June is derived from Juniors.^ He also well 
illustrates the puerilities and crudities of scholastic argu- 
mentation. Thus one of the arguments which he lists 
against regarding a sphere as a solid body is that solids can 
be measured by a straight line and that it cannot.^ Asking 
whether fire is hot in its own sphere, he says that it might 
seem not, because fire in its own sphere is light and light 
is neither hot nor cold.® This argument he rebuts in the 
end, and he finally decides that a sphere is a solid. But 
he would have seemed wiser to the modern reader to have 
omitted these particular contrary arguments entirely. Such 
propositions continue, however, to be set up and knocked 

^Meteor. Ill, iv. 26 (Borgnet, setischaften u. d. Technik, VI 

IV, 697). (1913) 387-93. 

' See Jourdain, Recherches, etc., ' De Renzi, I, 292. 

and more recently H. Stadler, * Canon. Misc. 555, f ol. 6. 

"Irrtiimer des Albertus Magnus 'Sphere (1518), p. 106. 

bei Benutzung des Aristoteles," in '^ Ibid., p. 107. 
Archiv f. d. Gesch. d. Xaturzins- 

the stars. 


down again all through the thirteenth century, and such 
famous men as Thomas Aquinas and Peter of Abano are 
guilty of much the same sort of thing. To Michael Scot's 
credit may be mentioned his considerable power of experi- 
mentation and of scientific observation. Perhaps some of 
the "experiments" attributed to him are spurious, but they 
show the reputation which he had for experimental method, 
and on the whole it would seem to be justified. The note 
in his name in a thirteenth century manuscript at Cam- 
bridge,^ giving a carefully dated and detailed account of two 
human foetuses which had solidified into stones like eggs, 
shows a keen sense of the value of thorough observation 
and a precise record of the same. Experimental science 
would seem to have received considerable encouragement at 
the court of Frederick II, judging from the stories told of 
that emperor and the pages of his own work on falconry.^ 
God and But let US examine Michael's views and methods more 

particularly. In opening the long preface to his voluminous 
Introduction to Astrology he states that hard study is 
requisite to become a good astrologer, but he finds incentive 
to such effort in citations from Seneca, Cato, and St. Ber- 
nard that it is virtuous to study and to be taught, and in 
the reflection that one who knows the conditions and 
habitudes of the superior bodies can easily learn those of 
inferior bodies. The signs and planets are not first movers 
or first causes, and do not of themselves confer aught of 
good or evil, but by their motion do indicate "something of 
truth concerning every body produced in this corruptible 
world." The hour of conception is important and Michael 
explains why two persons born at the same moment may be 
unlike. He then jumbles together from Christian and astro- 
logical writers such assertions as that the stars are only 
signs, not causes, and that their influence on inferior creation 
may be compared to the action of the magnet upon iron, 
or that we see on earth good men suffer and bad men pros- 

^ Gonville and Caius 109, fol. Venandi cum Avibus' of the Em- 
I02v-i03r. peror Frederick II," EHR 

»C. H. Haskins, "The 'De Arte XXXVI (1921) 334-55- 


per, which has usually been regarded as a better argument 
for a fatalistic or mechanical universe than for divine con- 
trol. He agrees that the universe is not eternal and that 
everything is in God's powder, but insists that much can be 
learned concerning the future from the stars. ^ 

Michael then embarks upon a long theological digres- Atheo- 
sion ^ in the course of which he quotes much Scripture con- g^ls'ston.' 
cerning the two natures, angelic and human. After telling 
us of the nine orders of angels in the empyrean heaven, he 
deals with the process of creation, just as William of 
Conches and Daniel of Morley had done in their works of 
astronomy and astrology. In the first three days Gpd 
created spiritual substances such as the empyrean heaven, 
angels, stars, and planets; in the other three days, visible 
bodies such as mixtures of the elements, birds, fish, and 
man. Michael also answers various questions such as why 
man was created last, although nobler than other creatures, 
what an angel is, whether angels have individual names like 
men, and much concerning the tenth part who fell. Perhaps 
the emperor Frederick is supposed to put these queries to 
Michael, but there seemed to be no indication to that effect 
in the manuscript which I examined. The reply to the 
question where God resides is, potentially everywhere but 
substantially in the intellectual or empyrean heaven.^ 
Michael discusses the holy Trinity and thinks that we have 
a similitude of it in the rational soul in the three faculties, 
intellect, reason, and memory,* although he attempts no 
association of these with the three Persons as William of 
Conches imprudently did in the case of power, wisdom, and 
will. He indulges, however, in daring speculation as to 
where the members of different professions will go after they 
die. Philosophers, "who die in the Lord," will be located 
in the order of Cherubim, which is interpreted as plenitude 
of science; sincere members of religious orders and hermits 

^Bodleian 266, fols. ir-v. Fu- 19. 

ture citations, unless otherwise * fol. 4r. 

specified, will be to this MS. ■* fol. lOr. 

' It extends from fol. 2 to fol. 


will become Seraphim; while pope, emperor, cardinals, and 
prelates will enter the order of Thrones.^ Michael also con- 
tributes the following acrostic of eight sins whose initials 
compose the word, "Diabolus" : 







Ventris ingluvies 


The three In the course of the foregoing digression Michael in- 

^^^'' serted an account of the Magi and the star that appears to 

be based in part but with variations on the spurious homily 
of Chrysostom. He makes them three in number, one 
from Europe, Asia, and Africa respectively; and states that 
forewarned by Balaam's prophecy they met together an- 
nually for worship on the day of Christ's nativity, which 
they appear to have known beforehand. They stood in 
adoration for three days continuously on Mount Victorialis 
until on the third day they saw the star in the form of a 
most beautiful boy with a crown on his head. Then they 
followed the star upon dromedaries which, Michael explains, 
can go farther in a day than horses can in two months. 
Beside the star three suns arose that day at equal distances 
apart and then united in token of the Trinity; and Octa- 
vianus, emperor of the Romans, saw the Virgin holding the 
Child in the center of the sun's disk. As for the word 
magus, Michael explains that it has a threefold meaning, — 
which, however, has nothing to do with the Trinity, — 
namely : trickster, sorcerer, and wise man, and that the Magi 
who saw the star were all three of these until their subse- 
quent conversion to Christianity. 


Mols. iiv-i2r. 'fol. 3r-v. 

*fol. I7V. 


The remainder of Michael's lengthy and lumbering Astrology 
preface is largely occupied with the utility of astrology, guj^g^'j 
which he often calls "astronomy" (astronomia), and dif- from 
ferentiation of it from prohibited arts of magic and divina- 
tion. While, however, he distinguishes these other occult 
arts from astrology, he affirms that nigromancers, practi- 
tioners of the notory art, and alchemists owe more to the 
stars than they are ready to admit. ^ He also distinguishes 
a superstitious variety of astrology (superstitiosa as- 
tronof}iia) ,- under which caption he seems to have in mind 
divination from the letters of persons' names and the days 
of the moon, and other methods in which the astronomer or 
astrologer acts like a geomancer or sorcerer or tries to find 
out more than God wills. Scot also distinguishes between 
mathesis, or knowledge, and matesis, or divination, and be- 
tween mathematica, which may be taught freely and pub- 
licly, and matematica, which is forbidden to Christians.' 

Michael condemns magic and necromancy but takes evi- The magic 
dent joy in telling stories of magicians and necromancers ^^*^- 
and shows much familiarity with books of magic. He ex- 
plains "nigromancy" as black art, dealing with dark things 
and performed more by night than day, as well as the raising 
of the dead to give responses, in which the nigromancer is 
deceived by demons.* He repeats Hugh of St. Victor's 
definition that the magic art is not received in philosophy, 
destroys religion, and corrupts morals. As he has said be- 
fore, the magus is a trickster and evil-doer as well as wise 
in the secrets of nature and in prediction of the future.^ 
Michael lists twenty-eight varieties or methods of divina- 
tion. He believes that they are all true: augury by song 
of birds, interpretation of dreams, observance of days, or 
divination by holocausts of blood and corpses. But they 
are forbidden as infamous and evil. Later on, in the text 

* fols. 2 and 20v. which speaks of a magus as in- 
' fols. 2iv-22r. specting entrails of animals I take 

* fol. 22r. it that the word is a slip of the 

* fol 22V. copyist for haruspex. 
" In another passage at fol. 23r 



ments of 

itself, he returns to this point, saying that these methods 
of predicting the future are against the Christian Faith, but 
nevertheless true, like the marvels of Simon Magus. ^ 
Michael defines and describes various magic arts in much the 
same manner as Isidore, Hugh of St. Victor, and John of 
Salisbury ; but with some divergences. Under aerimancy he 
includes divination from thunder, comets, and falling stars, 
as well as from the shapes assumed by clouds. Hydromancy 
he calls "a short art of experimenting" as well as divining. 
The gazing into clear, transparent, or liquid surfaces for 
purposes of divination is performed, he says, with some 
observance of astrological hours, secrecy, and purity by a 
child of five or seven years who repeats after the master an 
incantation or invocation of spirits over human blood or 
bones. He speaks of a maleficiis as one who interprets char- 
acters, phylacteries, incantations, dreams, and makes liga- 
tures of herbs. The praestigiostis deceives men through 
diabolic art by phantastic illusions of transformation, such 
as changing a woman into a dog or bear, making a man 
appear a wolf or ass, or causing a human head or limb to 
resemble that of some animal. Even alchemy, or perhaps 
only the superstitious practice of it, Michael seems to classify 
as a forbidden magic art, saying, "Alchemy as it were tran- 
scends the heavens in that it strives by the virtue of spirits 
to transmute common metals into gold and silver and from 
them to make a water of much diversity," that is, an elixir. 
Lot-casting, on the other hand, both the authority of Augus- 
tine and many passages in the Bible pronounce licit. 

Michael more than once ascribes an experimental char- 
acter to magic arts. Besides calling hydromancy "a short 
art of experimenting," he states that, since demons are 
naturally fond of blood and especially human blood, nigro- 
mancers or magicians, when they wish to perform experi- 
ments, often mix water with real blood or use wine which 
has been exorcized in order to make it appear bloody. "And 
they make some sacrifice with the flesh of a living human 

Mol. i75r. 

n MICiiAEL SCOT 321 

being, for instance, a bit of their own flesh, or of a corpse, 
and not the flesh of brutes, knowing that consecration of a 
spirit in a bottle or ring cannot be achieved except by the 
performance of many sacrifices." ^ Despite his censure of 
the art in the preface under discussion, we find a necromantic 
experiment of an elaborate character ascribed to Michael 
Scot in a fifteenth century manuscript ^ which purports to 
copy it "from a very ancient book," ^ a phrase which scarcely 
increases our confidence in the genuineness of the ascription. 
The object of the experiment is to secure the services of a 
demon to instruct one in learning. Times and astrological 
conditions are to be observed as well as various other pre- 
liminaries and ceremonies; a white dove is to be beheaded, 
its blood collected in a glass vessel, a magic circle drawn with 
its bleeding heart; and various prayers to God, invocations 
of spirits, and verses of the Bible are to be repeated. At 
one juncture, however, one is warned not to make the sign 
of the cross or one will be in great peril. 

But to return to Michael's magnum opus. The preface History 
closes with a rather long and very confused * account of the tronomy. 
history of astronomy and astrology. While Zoroaster of 
the lineage of Shem was the inventor of magic, the arts of 
divination began with Cham, the son of Noah, who was 
both of most subtle genius and trained in the schools of 
the demons. He tested by experience what they taught him 
and having proved what was true, indited the same on two 
columns and taught it to his son Canaan who soon out- 
stripped his father therein and wrote thirty volumes on 
the arts of divination and instructed his son Nemroth in 
the same. When Canaan was slain in war and his books 
were burned, Nemroth revived the art of astronomy from 
memory and was, like his father, deemed a god by many 
because of his great lore. He composed a work on the 

Mol. 22V. *At least in the MS which I 

'Printed by Brown (1897), pp. have used; Bodleian 266. fols. 24r- 

231-4. 25 r. 
* Ihid., p. 18. 


subject for his son lonicon,^ whose son Abraham also be- 
came an adept in the art and came from Africa to Jerusalem 
and taught Demetrius and Alexander of Alexandria, who 
in turn instructed Ptolemy, king of Egypt, who invented 
astronomical canons and tables and the astrolabe and quad- 
rant. The giant Atlas brought the art to Spain before Moses 
received the two tables containing the ten commandments. 
If this chronology surprises us, there is something more 
amazing to follow. At this point in the manuscript the 
copyist has either omitted a great deal ^ or Atlas was ex- 
tremely long-lived, since we next read about his showing 
the astrolabe to two "clerks of France." Gilbertus (pre- 
sumably Gerbert) borrowed the instrument for a while, 
conjured up demons — for he was the best nigromancer in 
France, made them explain its construction, uses, and opera- 
tion to him, and furthermore all the rest of astronomy. 
Later he reformed and had no more dealing with demons 
and became bishop of Ravenna and Pope. Having thus got 
rather ahead of time, Michael mentions various other learned 
astronomers, most of whom really lived before Gerbert, 
such as Thebit ben Corat, Messahalla, Dorotheus, Hermes, 
Boethius, Averroes, John of Spain, Isidore, Zahel, and 
The spirits Having finally terminated his preface, Michael begins 

a^r and ^^^ ^^^^ book with a description of the heavens and their 

earth. " What purported to be this coverer of astronomy and teach- 

work is Hsted in the Speculum er of Nimrod (Haskins, op. cit. 

astronomiae of Albertus Magnus, 210-11). 

and Haskins, "Nimrod the As- ' The word Explicit is written 

tronomer," Romanic Review, V. across the knees of a figure of the 

(1914), 203-12, has called atten- giant Athalax or Caclon who sup- 

tion to the following MSS: S. ports the heavens on his head at 

Marco VIII, 22; Vatic. Pal. Lat. fol. 25r, col. i, but the passage 

1417; and an extract in Ash- concerning "Gilbertus" follows 

mole 191. Haskins notes various and the proper Explicit of the 

mentions of Nimrod as an as- preface does not occur until fol. 

tronomer i:i medieval authors, but 25V, col. i. See Haskins, op. 

not the above passage from cit. p. 207 for pictures in the MSS 

Michael Scot. Although Latin of Atlas and Nimrod side by side, 

writers make loathon or lonaton the one standing on the Pyrenees 

(and various other spellings) the and supporting the starry firma- 

disciple of Nimrod, in Syrian ment; the other on the mount of 

writers lonitus is the fourth son the Amorites bearing the starless 

of Noah and himself the dis- heavens. 


motion. Some say that the planets are moved by angels; 
others, by winds ; but he holds that they are ruled by divine 
virtues, spiritual and not corporeal, but of whom little 
further can be predicated, since they are imperfectly known 
to man and naturally will remain so.^ Later he states that 
they do not move or rule the celestial bodies naturally but 
as a service of obedience to their Creator.^ He has already 
spoken in the preface of spirits in the northern and south- 
ern air, and asserted that very wise spirits who give re- 
sponses when conjured dwell in certain images or constella- 
tions among the signs of the zodiac.^ In the Liher particu- 
laris he speaks of similar demons in the moon.* Now he 
mentions "a legion of spirits damned" in the winds. ^ In 
later passages in the Liber introdtictorius he gives the names 
of the ruling spirits of the planets, Kathariel for Saturn,® 
and so on, and a list of the names of spirits of great virtue 
who, if invoked by name, will respond readily and perform 
in marvelous wise all that may be demanded of them.^ 
And as the planets are said to have seven rectors who are 
believed to be the wisest spirits in the sky, so the seven 
metals are said to have seven rectors who are believed to 
be angels in the earth.^ Names of angels also occur in 
some of his astrological diagrams.^ This education of the 
reader in details of astrological necromancy shows that 
Michael is not to be depended upon to observe consistently 
the condemnation of magic and distinction between as- 
trology and necromancy with which he started out in the 

By affirming that the physician must know the state of Occult 
the moon and of the wind and that "there are many pas- 
sions of the soul under the sphere of the moon," ^^ Michael 
introduces us to the subject of astrological medicine, a 
theme to which he returns more than once in the course 

^ f ol. 28r-v; also Canon. Misc. * fols. I50v-i58r. 

555, fol. 22r. ' fol. 172. 

=■ fol. 68v. • fol. I45V. 

^ fol. 2 IV. ' fol. 128V. 

* Canon. Misc. 555, fol. lyv. " fols. 3or, 31T. 
*fol. 29V. 



of the work.^ The practice of flebotomy is illustrated by a 
figure showing the influence of the signs of the zodiac upon 
the human body.^ From the fact that there are fourteen 
joints in the fingers of the hand or toes of the foot Michael 
infers that man's span of life should be 140 years, a maxi- 
mum which sin has reduced to 120.^ There are as many 
medicines as there are diseases and these consist in the 
virtues of words, herbs, and stones, as illustrations of which 
Michael adduces the sacrament of the altar, the magnet and 
iron used by deep-sea sailors, and plasters and powders * 
In some cases, however, neither medicine nor astrology 
seems to avail, and, despite his preliminary condemnation 
of the magic arts, Michael argues that when the doctor can 
do nothing for the patient he should advise him to consult 
an enchantress or diviner.^ 
The seven From the seven planets and sphere of the moon Michael 

the'air^ turns to the seven regions of the air, which are respectively 
the regions of dew, snow, hail, rain, honey, laudanum, and 
manna.^ This is the earliest occurrence of this discussion 
w^hich I have met, and I do not know from what source, if 
any, Michael took it. It is essentially repeated by Thomas 
of Cantimpre in his De natura rerum, where he gives no 
credit to Michael Scot but cites Aristotle's Meteorology in 
which, however, only dew, snow, rain, and hail are dis- 
cussed. In the History of Animals '' Aristotle further states 
that honey is distilled from the air by the action of the 
stars and that the bees make only the wax. Michael simi- 
larly describes the honey as falling from the air into flowers 
and herbs and being collected by the bees; but he distin- 
guishes two kinds of honey, the natural variety just de- 
scribed and the artificial honey which results from the 

* fol. 174T. hostia sacrata super altare, in 

* fol. 144V. magnete et ferro navigantes in 
' fol. 173V. alto mari, et in emplastris, pulveri- 

* fol. I73r, "Nam tot sunt medi- bus, et consertis." 
cine quot sunt infirmitates et hae ° fol. i7Sv. 
constant in tribus videlicet in ver- ' f ols. 32v-35r. 

bis, herbis, et lapidibus, virtutes '' Hist. Animal. V, xix, 4. 

quorum quotidie videmus ut in 


bee's process of digestion. He also explains that sugar 
(and molasses?) is not a liquor which will evaporate like 
honey and manna, but is made from the pith of canes.^ 
"Laudanum" is a humor of the air in the Orient, and 
manna descends mainly in India with the dew, being found 
in Europe only in times of great heat. It is of great virtue, 
both medicinal and in satisfying hunger, as in the case of 
the children of Israel under Moses. 

We cannot take the time to follow Michael in all his Michael's 

mi spf^l— 

long ramblings through things in heaven above and earth laneous 
beneath : suri, tides, springs, seasons, the difference between content. 
Stella, aster, sidus, signiim, imago, and planeta, the music 
of the spheres, the octave in music, eight parts of speech in 
grammar, and eight beatitudes in theology, zones and 
paradise, galaxy and horizon and zenith, divisions of time, 
the four inferior elements and the creatures contained in 
them, eclipses of sun and moon, Adam protoplasm and 
minor mimdus as the letters of his name indicate, the 
mutable and transitory nature of this world, the inferno in 
the earth, and purgatory. 

Sooner or later Michael comes to or returns to astro- Further 
logical doctrine and technique, lists the qualities of the \lJ\^lx 
seven planets and head and tail of the dragon,^ explains the doctrine, 
names and some of the effects of the signs of the zodiac,^ 
gives weather prognostications from sun and moon,* states 
the moon's influence in such matters as felling trees and 
slaughtering pigs,^ and expounds by text and figures plane- 
tary aspects, exaltations, and conjunctions,^ friendships 
and enmities.''' The planet Mercury signifies in regard to 
the rational soul, grammar, arithmetic, and every science.^ 
The election of hours is considered and a list given of what 
to do and not to do in the hour of each planet and that of 

' f ol. 3Sr, "de zuccaro et zac- ' fol. 7Sr et seq. ; fols. 108-114. 

cara. Saccarum et zathara non * f ols. 11 7-8. 

sunt liquores vaporabiles ut mel ' fol. 89. 

et manna sed sit de medula can- " fol. 124 et seq. ; fols. 132-5. 

narum." 'fols. 145V-147V. 

' fols. 44r et seq. ; fols. 150-8. * fol. 45r. 


the moon in each sign.^ There then follows, despite 
Michael's animadversions in the preface against interpreters 
of dreams and those observing days, an "Exposition of 
dreams for each day of the moon," ~ nativities for each day 
of the week, and a method of divination from the day 
of the week on which the New Year falls. ^ A discussion 
of the effect of the moon upon conception is interrupted by 
a digression on eggs : how to estimate the laying power of 
a hen by the color and size of its crest, the effect of thunder 
upon eggs, how from eggs to make a water of great value 
in alchemy, and how to purify bad wine with the white of an 
egg.^ Returning again to the moon, we are told that in 
the new moon intellects are livelier, scholars study and pro- 
fessors teach better, and all artisans work harder. Michael 
Scot used to say to the emperor Frederick that if he wished 
clear counsel from a wise man, he should consult him in a 
waxing moon and in a human and fiery or aerial sign of 
the zodiac.^ Michael had spoken earlier of the planets as 
judges of the varied questions of litigators,® and now, al- 
though admitting the freedom of the human will, he pro- 
ceeds to discuss at considerable length "^ the art of interroga- 
tions by which the astrologer answers questions put to him. 
With this the Bodleian manuscript of the Liber introduc- 
torius ends, apparently incomplete.^ 
Omission In the marginal gloss accompanying a Latin translation 

tiM^*'^'" of the astrological works of Abraham Avenezra in a manu- 
script of the fifteenth century ^ Michael Scot is quoted a 
good deal on the subject of nativities. But the Liber intro- 
ductorius, or at least as much of it as appears in the 
Bodleian manuscript, contains little upon this side of as- 

* fols. 162V-163. second ends on fol. 178, but it is 

*fol. 164V. difficult to state whether the MS 

' fol. 165. contains anything beyond the first 

*fol. \y6r-v. portion of the third distinctio of 

"fol. 177V. this first book, owing to the ab- 

•fol. 28r. sence of decisive rubrics." 

Mols. 178-218. F. Boll (1903) states that the 

' As Madan's description of the fourth distinctio is also missing 

MS says, "The first book contain* in CLM 10268. 

four distinciiones, of which the * BN 7438, 15th century. 



trology, except the brief nativities for each day of the 
week. A passage quoted by Brown ^ to the effect that the 
person born under a certain sign will be an adept in experi- 
ments and incantations, in coercing spirits and working 
marvels, and will be an alchemist and nigromancer, appears 
in the manuscript as a marginal addition rather than part 
of the text and so is presumably not by Michael Scot him- 

In connection with the subject of elections Michael gives Magic for 
a list of the prayers, conjurations, and images appropriate hoim 
for each of the twelve hours of the day and of the night.- 
For instance, in the first hour of the day men pray to God 
and it is a good time to bind all tongues by images, char- 
acters, and conjurations. In the second hour angels pray 
to God and images and other devices to promote love and 
concord should be constructed then. In the third hour birds 
and fishes pray to God and it is a good time to make images 
and other contrivances to catch birds and fish. In the first 
hour of the night demons hold colloquy with their lord and 
the time is favorable for the invocation of spirits. 

A more Christian and less magical enumeration of the Quaint 
hours occurs in the Liber particularis.^ At morning Christ scien'ce^* 
was arrested on the Mount of Olives. In the first hour 
Christ was presented to Ananias and Caiphas, the high 
priests; in the third hour, to Pontius Pilate; in the sixth 
hour He was brought back to Herod and taken to Mount 
Calvary; in the ninth He was given vinegar and gave up 
the ghost and the earth quaked and the veil of the temple 
was rent in twain ; at vespers He was taken down from the 
cross. Another specimen of this quaint religious science 
is found in the Liber introductorius,^ where Michael, writ- 
ing before the invention of the telescope, speaks of the 
limits set to seeing into the heavens except by special grace 
of God, as in the case of Katherine and of Stephen, the first 

^ In a footnote at page 185, 
from Bodl. 266, fol. 113. 
"fol. i62r. 

'Canon. Misc. 555, fol. 4. 
* Bodleian 266, fol. 47r. 



The Phi- 

of the 
stars on 

martyr, who, when stoned, saw the heavens opened. A third 
example occurs in the third part of the opus magnum, or 
Phisionomia, where it is stated that at birth a male child 
cries "Oa" and a female child "Oe," as if to say respectively, 
"O Adam (or, O Eve) why have you sinned that I on your 
account must suffer infinite misery?" ^ In the same work 
Michael gives original sin as one of two reasons why a 
baby cannot talk and walk as soon as it is born.^ 

The third part of Scot's main work, and the only section 
which has been printed, is that primarily devoted to the 
pseudo-science of physiognomy, which endeavors to deter- 
mine a man's character from signs furnished by the various 
parts of his body. The Phisionomia^ is addressed to the 
Emperor Frederick II who is exhorted to the pursuit of 
learning in general and the science of physiognomy in par- 
ticular. This is probably a conscious or unconscious imita- 
tion of the remarks addressed to Alexander by the Pseudo- 
Aristotle in The Secret of Secrets, of which also a consider- 
able portion is devoted to physiognomy, and from which 
Rasis and Michael borrowed a good deal.^ Indeed, the 
Phisionomia of Michael Scot is also often entitled De 
secretis naturae and really only a certain portion of it is 
devoted exclusively to physiognomy proper. Its early chap- 
ters and first part deal rather with the process of generation 
and it is only with the twenty-third chapter and second part 
that Michael "reverts to the doctrine of physiognomy." 
Perhaps these chapters on generation had more to do with 
the popularity and frequent printing of the work than did 
those on physiognomy. 

In this discussion of the process of human generation 
the influence of the stars receives ample recognition. 
Michael regards the moment of conception as of great as- 
trological importance; then according to the course of the 
stars and the disposition of the bodies conceiving the foetus 
(1740) cap. xi, 

p. 22,s. 
^ Ibid., cap. ix, p. 229. 
' Or Phisonomia as it is often 

spelled in the medieval texts them- 
* Brown (1897), 32 and 37. 


receives "similarly and simultaneously" each and all of the 
determining factors in its subsequent nature and history.^ 
This we may perhaps regard as a medieval approach to the 
theory of Mendel. Michael further urges every woman to 
note the exact moment of sexual intercourse, when this is 
to result in generation, and so make astrological judgment 
easy.- Yet he states later that God gives a new and free 
soul with the new body, just as a father might give his son 
a new tablet on which to write whatever he wills of good or 
evil.^ He notes the correspondence of the menstrual fluid 
to the waxing and waning of the moon and that planet's 
influence during the seventh month of the formation of 
the child in the womb,* and gives the usual account of the 
babe's chances of life or death according as it is born within 
seven months, or during the eighth, or ninth, or tenth 
month. It is not quite clear if it is because there are seven 
planets that Michael affirms that a woman can bear as many 
as seven children at once.^ He adds that in this case the 
child conceived in the middle one of the seven cells of the 
matrix will be a hermaphrodite.® 

Scot's treatise on Physiognomy has considerable to say Discussion 
of other forms of divination and they here appear in a 
more favorable light than in his discussion of varieties of 
the magic arts in the preface preceding his Liher introduc- 
torius. Among signs to tell whether a pregnant woman 
will give birth to a boy or a girl he suggests "a chiromantic 
experiment" "^ which consists simply in asking her to hold 
out her hand. H she extends the right, the child will be a 
boy ; if the left, a girl. He also expounds methods of augury 
at some length, although again stating that they are in the 
canons of the church, that is to say prohibited by canon 

^Edition of 1740, p. 210, "Et * Cap. 8 (1740), p. 228. 

secundum cursum corporum su- ''Cap. 3 (1740), p. 218; cap. ID, 

periorum sicut dispositionem cor- p. 230. 

porum concipientium foetus re- "Cap. 2 (1740), p. 213. 

cipit similiter et semel omnia et * Cap. 7 (1740), p. 227. 

sineula quae postea discernunt ^ Cap. 18 (1740), p. 248, "In 

ordinem temporum et naturae." chiromantia est illud experimen- 

' Cap. 7 (1740), p. 226. turn. . . ." 







law. The divisions of space employed in augury are twelve 
in number after the fashion of the signs of the zodiac.^ 
Michael also discusses the significance of sneezes. If any- 
one sneezes twice or four times while engaged in some 
business and immediately rises and moves about, he will 
prosper in his undertaking. If one sneezes twice in the 
course of the night for three successive nights, it is a sign 
of death or some catastrophe in the house. If after making 
a contract one sneezes once, it is a sign that the agreement 
will be kept inviolate; but if one sneezes thrice, the pact will 
not be observed.^ 

Dreams and their interpretation are also discussed in 
the Physionomia.^ The age of the dreamer, the phase of 
the moon, and the stage reached in the process of digestion, 
all have their bearing upon interpretation. A dream which 
occurs before the process of digestion has started either 
has no significance or concerns the past. The dream which 
comes while the food is being digested has to do with the 
present. Only when the process of digestion has been com- 
pleted do dreams occur which signify concerning the future. 
In order to recall a dream in the morning Michael recom- 
mends sleeping upon one's other side for the remainder of 
the night or rubbing the back of the head the next day. 
Some dreams signify gain, others loss; some joy, others 
sadness ; some sickness, others health, others war ; some 
labor, others rest. For instance, to catch a bird signifies 
gain, to lose a bird in one's dream signifies loss; to mourn 
in dreams portends joy, to laugh indicates grief. The rest 
of his discussion of dreams Scot limits to their significance 
in matters of health and physical constitution. He takes up 
dreams indicative of predominance of blood, red cholera, 
phlegm, and melancholy respectively; of heat, cold, dryness, 
and humidity; of excess of humors and of bad humors. 

^ De notitia atiguriorum, cap. 57 290. 
(1740), p. 285. 
*Cap. 58 (1740), pp. 288, 289, 3cq. 

Caps. 46-56 (1740), p. 280, et 




While on the subject of divination we may note that 
a geomancy ^ and a chiromancy - have been ascribed to 
Michael Scot, and also prophetic verses concerning the fate 
of Italian cities in the style of the Sibylline verses and 
prophecies of Merlin. Brown held that the evidence for 
the authenticity of these verses was as convincing as that 
for any event in Scot's life.^ 

It would not be surprising to find that Michael himself 
practiced medicine as well as astrology, in view of the atten- 
tion given to human physiology and the process of genera- 
tion in his Physiognomy and elsewhere, and the interest in 
biology which his translation of the Aristotelian works on 
animals evidences. A treatise on prognostication from the 
urine is ascribed to him ■* and "Pills of Master Michael 
Scot" are mentioned in at least one manuscript,^ where 
they are declared to be good for all diseases and of virtue 

Michael's general allusion to the occult virtue of words, 
herbs, and stones in the Liber introductorius may be sup- 
plemented by a few specific examples of the same from the 
other two divisions of his main work. In the Liber par- 
ticular is he mentions such virtues of stones as the property 
of the agate to reveal various signs of demons and illusions 
of enchantment, and the power of the jasper to render its 
bearer rich, amiable, and eloquent.*' In the Phidonomia 
he suggests that persons who cannot maintain physical 
health without frequent sexual intercourse may be able to 
do so by carrying a jasper or topaz, ''^ He also states that 

* CLM 489, i6th century. 

* Chiromantica Scientia, quarto 
minori sine notis typographicis, 
foliis 28 constat itnpressis. "Ex 
divina philosophorum academia 
secundum nature vires ad extra 
chyromantitio diligentissime col- 
lectum. Exordium." CI. Denis, 
qui alias editioncs huius operis 
adfert, Michaelum Scotum auc- 
torem eiusdem censeri tradit. 

* Brown (1897), 163 et seq. 

* Vatican, Regina di Svezia, 
1 159, fol. 149, "Finis urinarum 

Works of 
to Michael 

Magistri Michaelis Scoti." To the 
two MSS Hsted by Brown, p. 
153. note 6, containing an Italian 
translation, may be added Perugia 
316, 15th century, fols. 91-106, 
"Qui chomenza el tractato delle 
orine secondo come mete maistro 
Alichelle sthato strollogo del re 
Ferigo ai nostri bexogni." 

^Addit. 24068, 13th century, fol. 

* Canon. Misc. 555, fol. sor-v. 

' (1740), p. 222. 





in the 

bathing in the blood of a dog or of two-year-old infants 
mixed with hot water "undoubtedly cures leprosy," ^ and 
that many sorceries can be wrought by use of the menstrual 
fluid, semen, hairs of the head, blood, and footprints in 
dust or mud.^ 

Michael Scot's Commentary upon the Sphere of Sacro- 
bosco ^ confines itself rather more strictly to astronomical 
^^hh ''" ^^^ ^^^ astrological topics than did the Liber introductorius, 
but otherwise their contents are not dissimilar. In the 
Commentary Michael discusses such questions as wdiether 
the universe is eternal, one or many, and what form or 
figure it should have; whether the mover of the sky is 
moved, whether the stars are spherical bodies, and whether 
the zone between the tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic 
Circle is temperate and inhabited. Also whether the ele- 
ments are four in number, and whether the heavens include 
a ninth sphere. One argument against its existence is that 
there are no stars in it, on which account some hold that 
it would exert no influence upon the earth. But Michael 
replies that it has light apart from any starry bodies and 
by virtue of this light does exert influence. Other astro- 
logical questions which he raises are whether the signs of 
the zodiac should be designated by the names of animals, 
whether the first heaven is a more potent cause of genera- 
tion and corruption than the circle of the zodiac is, whether 
celestial bodies have particular properties as terrestrial 

^ Phisionomia, cap. 14 (1740), 

p. 241. 

'Ibid., cap. 10, p. 233. 

' If the ascription of this Com- 
mentary to Michael is correct, 
probably either he wrote it to- 
ward the end of his life or Sacro- 
bosco composed the Sphere fairly 
early in his career, since he ap- 
pears to have outlived Michael 
and to have composed his Com- 
putus ecclcsiasticus or De anni 
ratione in 1244: see Duhem III 
(i9i5)> P- 240. The lines quoted 
in DNB "John Holywood or Hali- 
fax" as on his tomb in the cloister 
of the Mathurins and as having 

reference to the date of his death 
are really the verses at the close 
of his Computus ecclcsiasticus: 

"M Christi bis C quarto deno 
quater anno 

De Sacro Bosco discrevit tem- 
pera ramus 

Gratia cui dcderat nomen divina 
Johannes!' etc. 
Cantor II (1913), p. 87, however, 
speaks of two different tomb in- 
scriptions given by Vossius and 
Kastner but says that they agree 
on 1256 as the date of Sacrobosco's 
death. The first line above quoted 
is sometimes interpreted as giv- 
ing the date 1256 rather than 1244. 




bodies do, whether the heavens are animate, whether their 
motion is natural or voluntary, whether the motion of the 
planets is rational, and whether super-celestial bodies act 
upon inferiors by virtue of their motion. In mentioning the 
departments of life over which the seven planets rule, 
Michael cites either theologians or astrologers ^ to the effect 
that Saturn signifies concerning pagans, Jews, and all other 
adversaries of the Faith, who are slow to believe just as 
Saturn is slow of movement and chilling in effect, while 
Jupiter is the sign of true believers and Christians. 

In commenting upon Sacrobosco's concluding passage 
concerning the miraculous eclipse at the time of Christ's 
passion and the remark attributed to Dionysius the Areopa- 
gite, "Either the God of nature suffers or the machine of 
the universe is dissolved," Michael explains that ancient 
Athens was divided into three parts. One of these was the 
shore which was consecrated to Neptune, but in place of 
the plain and the mountains, Michael appears to take a 
leaf out of Plato's Republic and mentions the region of 
the warriors, dedicated to Pallas, goddess of war, and the 
residential quarter of the philosophers, named the Areopagus 
from Ares meaning virtue and pagus meaning villa. Ac- 
cording to Michael the altar to the unknown god was erected 
by Dionysius the Areopagite at the time of the darkness and 
earthquake accompanying Christ's passion, and when Paul 
came and preached the Christ whom he ignorantly wor- 
shiped, Dionysius was converted, and became a missionary 
to the Gauls, bishop of Paris, and finally gained a martyr's 

In the Liber Intro duct orius Michael seemed to associate 
alchemy with the magic arts. In his Commentary on the 
Sphere his attitude is more favorable. After citing the 
fourth book of the Meteorology and other passages from 
Aristotle to the effect that no element can be corrupted and 

^ In the editio princeps of 1495 
the marginal heading is, "Quid de 
planeiis scntiunt thcologi," but in 
Odc text we read " thrologi," which 

is possibly derived from "astiirol- 
ogi' by a dropping off of the first 

the Areo- 
pagite and 
the solar 




Works of 
to Michael 

Elias and 

hence the transmutation striven after by the alchemists is 
impossible, Michael explains that the word element may 
be taken in two senses. As a part of the universe it is 
neither generable nor corruptible, but in so far as an ele- 
ment is mixed with active and passive qualities, it is both 
generable and corruptible.^ 

Thanks perhaps to this passage the composition or trans- 
lation of several works of alchemy is ascribed to Michael 
Scot in manuscripts or printed editions. The Quaestio 
curiosa de natura Soils et Lunae, which was printed as 
Michael's in two editions of the Theatrum Chemicimi,- was 
apparently written after his death. ^ A Palermo manuscript 
contains among other alchemical tracts a "Book of Master 
Michael Scot in which is contained the mastery." * In at 
least one manuscript Michael Scot is called the translator of 
the Liber Imninis luminum, of which Rasis is elsewhere 
mentioned as the original author.^ In an Oxford manu- 
script a De alchemia is attributed to Michael Scot. It is 
addressed to "you, great Theophilus, king of the Saracens" ^ 
rather than to the Emperor Frederick, and speaks of "the 
noble science" of alchemy as "almost entirely rejected among 
the Latins." Michael Scot mentions himself by name in 
it rather too often for us to accept the treatise as his with- 
out question, while the allusions to "Brother Elias" the 
Franciscan as a fellow-worker in alchemy are perhaps also 
open to suspicion. 

We find, however, another suggestion of Brother Elias's 
interest in alchemy and association therein with Michael 

^ Edition of 1495, fol. b-ii, verso. 

* Strasburg, 1622 and 1659. 

* And is not a chapter from the 
Liber Introductorius; see Brown, 

* Liber Magistri Michaelis Scotti 
in quo continetur Magisterium, 
No. 44 in a MS belonging to the 
Speciale family. I have not seen 
the MS. It is described briefly 
by Brown, 78-80; see further 
S. A. Carini, SuUe Science Occulte 
nel Medio Evo, Palermo, 1872. 

° See bibliographical note at the 
beginning of this chapter. 

* This expression occurs in the 
course of ~the text itself — Corpus 
Christi 125, fol. 97r — in addition 
to the words scratched in the 
upper margin at the beginning by 
another hand, "Michael Scotus 
Theophilo Regi Saracenorum." 
The conclusion of the treatise is 
in a 14th century hand, the re- 
mainder in a 15th century hand. 


Scot in the fact that in the same manuscript containing 
the translation of the Liber himinis luminum ascribed to 
Michael occurs another Liber lumen limiinum which Brother 
Elias, General of the Friars Minor, edited in Latin for the 
Emperor Frederick.^ A brother Cyprian translated it from 
Arabic into Latin for him. In view of the later interest 
of another Franciscan friar, Roger Bacon, in alchemy and 
the supposition which some have entertained that he was 
persecuted by his Order because of his experimental studies, 
this reputation of Brother Elias as an alchemist is inter- 
esting to note. One of St. Francis's earliest followers, he 
succeeded him in 1226 as General of the Order. Deposed 
by the pope in 1230 on the charge of promoting schism in 
the Order, he was re-elected in 1236 and was again deposed 
by the pope in 1239, after which he joined the imperial 
party and was excommunicated from 1244 until just be- 
fore his death in 1253.- Brown suggested that his alchem- 
ical activities were alluded to by the pope on the occasion of 
his first deposition in the words mutari color optimus aiiri 
ex quo caput erat compactum." ^ But if Elias was an 
alchemist, no open objection to this appears to have been 
made either by the pope or his Order. Indeed, many of 
the alchemists in Italy of the twelfth and thirteenth cen- 
turies were clergy and even friars.* 

Brown has already discussed the contents of the Liber Liber 
liiminis hmiiniim and De alcheuiia (or, alchimia) ^ but il^niinum 

erroneously and from not quite the same standpoint as ours. andDe 
TT • 1 • (< 1 r )> 1 • 1 1 alchemia. 

He mcorrectly mterprets the secrets of nature which the 

writer says he has investigated as the title of a book which 

has formed his chief source.® Brown also states that one 

* See bibliographical note at like Roger Bacon's for gun- 
opening of this chapter. powder. At p. 688 I have refuted 

'Brown, p. 91, citing Wadding, the notion that Bacon employed a 

I, 109. cipher to conceal the recipe for 

'Brown, p. 91, note 2. gunpowder. 

*Berthelot (1893) II, 74 and ° In his fourth chapter, "The 

77; Lippmann (1919) 481. I doubt Alchemical Studies of Michael 

if there is much ground for their Scot." 

further assertion that such clerics * If the title of any book were 
fell easily under suspicion of meant, it would rather be Mich- 
heresy and hence wrote in ciphers ael's own De secretis naturae, 


of several features which distinguishes the De alchemia from 
the Liber luminis "is an early passage which refers to the 
correspondence between the metals and the planets." ^ But 
there is a similar passage connecting seven metals with the 
seven planets in the opening paragraph of his own printed 
text of the Liber limtinis Imninnmr The latter treatise, 
brief as it is, divides into five parts dealing with salts, alums, 
vitriols, spirits, and the preparation of alums, and the em- 
ployment of these in transmutation. The De alchemia is 
less orderly in arrangement and seems largely a brief collec- 
tion of particular recipes for transmutation. 
Their Both works emphasize the secret character of alchemy, 

character- '^^^ ^^ alchemia holds forth concerning the great secret of 
istics. Hermes and Ptolemy, and tells how most men's eyes are 

blinded, and to how few the truth of the art is revealed. 
The Liber luminis litminum narrates that "when the great 
philosopher was dying he said to his son, 'O my son, hold 
thy secret in thy heart, nor tell it to anyone, nor to thy son, 
unless when thou canst retain it no longer.' Wise philoso- 
phers have yearned with yearning to know the truth of this 
salt. But few have known it and those who have known 
it have not told in their books the truth concerning it as 
they saw it." ^ Both works also are largely experimental 
in form and in the De alchemia we are assured more than 
once that "I, Michael Scot, have experienced this many 
times." * The books of the ancients and past philosophers 
are cited both in general and by name, but a black vitriol 
from France called French earth ^ and a gum found in 

since he not only says, "Cum in another alchemical treatise, 

rimarer et inquirerem secreta Liber Dedali philosophi, which 

naturae ex libris antiquorum phi- Brown printed on opposite pages 

losophorum . . . ," but also, "Que- to the text of the Liber luminis 

dam extraxi et ea secretis nature luminum. 

adiunxi. . ." * Corpus Christi 125, fol. 99V, 

^ P. 92. "et ego multotiens sum expertus," 

* P. 240, "Et notum est quod si- fol. loor, "Et ego michael scotus 

cut 7 sunt metalla ita 7 sunt pla- multotiens sum expertus," etc. 

nete et quodlibet metallum habet ° Brown, p. 262, "Vitriolum nig- 

suum planetam," etc. rum apportatur de Francia et 

' For Latin text see Brown, p. idcirco dicitur terra f rancigena. 

248. The same passage occurs Cum isto mulieres vulvam con- 


Calabria and at Montpellier ^ are mentioned as well as herbs 
and minerals from India and Alexandria, and we also hear 
of the experiments of brother Elias, certain Saracens who 
seem of comparatively recent date, and of the operation at 
Catania or Cortona by master Jacob the Jew which "I after- 
wards proved many times." - The Liber himinis luminum 
often speaks of "the great virtue" of this or that, and both 
treatises make much use of animal substances such as "dust 
of moles," the urine of the taxo or of a boy, the blood of a 
ruddy man or of an owl or frog. Five toads are shut up in 
a vessel and made to drink the juices of various herbs with 
vinegar as the first step in the preparation of a marvelous 
powder for purposes of transmutation.^ 

stringunt ut virgines appareant. istam operationem scilicet apud 

Non est autem magne utilitatis in cartanam a magistro jacobo iudeo 

ista arte." et ego postea multotiens pro- 

^ Corpus Christi 125, fol. ggr. bavi. . . ." 

* Ibid., fol. loor, "Et ego vidi ^ Brown, p. 252, for Latin text. 



The man and his writings — His respect for science — And for ex- 
perimentation — Influenced by Christian doctrine — Importance of his 
account of magic — Its main points summarized — Demons and magic — 
Magic and idolatry — Magic illusions — Natural magic — Is not concerned 
with demons — Some instances of natural magic — "The sense of na- 
ture" — Magic's too extreme pretensions — Wax images — Factitious 
gods — Characters and figures — Power of words denied — Use of divine 
names — Christian magic — Magic of sex and generation — William's con- 
tribution to the bibliography of magic — Plan of the rest of this chap- 
ter — Theory of spiritual substances — Spirits in the heavens — Will hell 
be big enough? — Astrological necromancy — False accounts of fallen 
angels — Different kinds of spirits — Limited demon control of nature — 
Can demons be imprisoned or enter bodies? — Susceptibility of demons 
to the four elements and to natural objects — Stock examples of natural 
marvels — The hazel rod story — Occult virtues of herbs and animals — 
Virtues of gems — A medley of marvelous virtues — Divination not an 
art but revelation — Divination by inspection of lucid surfaces — Other 
instances of divination, ancient and modern — His treatment of astrol- 
ogy — The philosophers on the nature of the heavens and stars — Wil- 
liam's own opinion and attitude — Objection to stars as cause of evil — 
Virtues of the stars — Extent of their influence upon nature and man — 
Against nativities, interrogations, and images — Astrology and religion 
and history — Comets and the star of Bethlehem. 

The man We now come upon a Christian theologian whose w^orks 

writings present an unexpectedly detailed picture of the magic and 

superstition of the time.^ He is well acquainted with both 

^ Gulielmi Alverni episcopi Pari- 
siensis mathematici perfectissimi 
eximii philosophi ac thcologi 
praestantissimi Opera omnia per 
Joanncm Dominicum Traianum 
Neapolitanuni Venetiis ex ofUcina 
Damiani Zenari, 1591. The De 
universo occupies nearly half of 
the volume, pp. 561-1012. My 
references will be to this edition 
and to the De universo unless 
some other title is specified. In 

it — and in such other editions of 
William's works as I have seen — 
the chapter headings are often 
very poor guides to the contents, 
especially if the chapter is of any 
length. There are at Paris thir- 
teenth century MSS of the De 
fide and De legibus (BN 15755) 
and De universo (BN 15756). 

The chief secondary work on 
William of Auvergne is Noel 
Valois, *Guillaume d'Auvergne, 



the occult literature and the natural philosophy of the day, 
and has much to say of magic, demons, occult virtue, divina- 
tion and astrology. Finally, he also gives considerable in- 
formation concerning what we may call the school of natural 
magic and of experiment. This theologian is William of 
Auvergne, bishop of Paris from 1228 to his death in 1249, 
and previously a canon of that city and a master of theology 
in its university. Judging from his age when he received 
this degree Valois estimates that he was born about 1180. 
He was made a bishop at Rome by the pope, where he had 
come as a simple deacon to pursue his appeal in the recent 
disputed election.^ He granted the Dominicans their first 
chair of theology at Paris during a quarrel of the university 
in 1228 with Queen Blanche of Castile and the dispersion 
of the faculties to Angers and Rheims.^ He took a prom- 
inent part in the Parisian attack upon the Talmud and was 
perhaps the first Christian doctor of the Latin west to dis- 
play an intimate acquaintance with the works attributed to 
Hermes Trismegistus.^ These facts suggest the extent of 
his reading in occult lore. We shall consider his views as 
expressed in his various writings, "On Sins and Vices," 
"Of Laws" (or Religions), in the frequent medieval use of 
the word, lex, "Of Morals," "Of Faith," but especially in 
his voluminous work on "The Universe" which deals more 
with the world of nature than do his other theological treat- 
Paris, 1880. One chapter is de- 1893.) The chapter on William's 
voted to his attitude to the super- attitude to superstition is largely 
stitions of his age, and goes to given over to examples of pop- 
the other extreme from Daunou, ular superstitions in the thirteenth 
HL XVIII, 375, whom Valois century, supplementing legends of 
criticizes for calling William ex- Brittany and other stories told by 
tremely credulous. The inad- William with similar anecdotes 
equacy of Valois' chapter, at least from the pages of Stephen of 
from our standpoint, may be in- Bourbon, Caesar of Heisterbach, 
ferred from his total omission of and Gervaise of Tilbury. Valois' 
William's conception of "natural citations of William's works are 
magic." Valois has no treatment from an edition in which the 
of William's attitude to natural pages were numbered differently 
science but contents himself with from those in the one I used, 
a discussion of his philosophy and * Valois (1880), pp. 9-1 1. 

psychology. (See also M. Baum- * Valois (1880), p. 53. 

gartner, Die Erkenntnislehre dcs ^ HL 18, 357. 

Wilhelm von Auvergne, Miinster, 


ises. Indeed, in the sixteenth century edition of his works 
he is called "a most perfect mathematician" and "a distin- 
guished philosopher" as well as "a most eminent theologian." 

His re- William at any rate has respect for natural philosophy 

spectfor , , . ./ . . . , T M , . 

science. and favors scientmc mvestigation of nature. Like his name- 
sake of Conches in the preceding century he has no sympathy 
with those who, when they are ignorant of the causes of 
natural phenomena and have no idea how to investigate 
them, have recourse to the Creator's omnipotent virtue and 
call everything of this sort a miracle, or evade the necessity 
of any natural explanation by affirming that God's will is 
the sole cause of it. This seems to William an intolerable 
error, in the first place because they have thus only one an- 
swer for all questions, and secondly because they are satis- 
fied with the most remote cause instead of the most immedi- 
ate one. There is no excuse for thus neglecting so many 
varied and noble sciences.^ 

In another passage W^illiam apologizes to the person to 
whom the De universo is addressed for the summary and 
inadequate discussion of the stars in which he has just been 
indulging.^ He knows that certitude in this subject calls 
for a most thorough investigation and requires a separate 
treatise. Moreover, his remarks have been in the nature of 
a digression and have little direct bearing on the question 
under discussion. But he has introduced them in order that 
his reader might see something of the depth and truth of 
philosophical discussion and not think that it can be de- 
spised as some fools do, who will accept nothing unless it 

* II-iii-20, (pp. 994-95). Yet in an- not, the man asked if he could 

other connection (I-i-46, pp. 625- prevent securing it if God willed it 

26) William inconsistently makes and the magician again answered 

the assertion that everything de- "No." The man then said that he 

pends absolutely upon God's will would commit it all to God. Wil- 

alone as an argument against em- liam does not seem to see that this 

ploying magic images to gain one's attitude is the same as that of 

ends. He tells a story of a man ignorant persons who leave scien- 

who, when a magician offered to tific investigation to God or of 

secure him some great dignity in hungry people who expect God to 

his city, asked him if he could get feed them, 

it against God's will. When the ' I-i-44, (p. 613). 
magician admitted that he corld 




And for 

is armed with proofs and adorned with flowers of rhetoric 
and who still more insanely regard as erroneous whatever 
they do not understand. 

Thus we see the scientific standards of William of 
Conches in the twelfth century still influential and probably 
more universally prevalent in the thirteenth. Like his narne- 
sake of Conches again, William of Auvergne states that our 
common fire is not the pure element, since it is largely made 
up of burning coal or wood or other consumed objects.^ He 
also states that "innumerable experiences" have proven that 
moles do not live on earth but hunt worms in it.^ William 
is aware that many sailors and navigators have found by 
experience that certain seas open into others, and as another 
indication that all seas are really only one connected sea, he 
adduces hidden subterranean channels, and mentions the re- 
port that Sicily is supported on four or five mountains as if 
by so many columns. Such are some illustrations of the 
bits of scientific information and the trust in natural experi- 
ment to be found in William's work. It is indeed surprising 
the number of times he alludes to "experimenters" and to 
"books of experiments." 

On the other hand William, of course, maintains such Influenced 
doctrines as that of creation against the Peripatetic theory tiando(> 
of the eternity of the universe. He also does not confuse t^i^^^- 
the world soul with the Holy Spirit as William of Conches 
and Theodoric of Chartres had done.^ More important than 
these particular points is the general hypothesis running 
through and underlying much of William's thought that the 
Creator can interfere again in the course of nature at any 
time and in any way He wills. ^ The atmosphere of the 
miraculous and the spiritual is almost constantly felt in 
William's account of the universe. To a certain extent, 
however, he evades the difficulties between science and re- 

"I-i-42, (p. 608). 

^Ibid., (p. 606). 

'See I-iii-31, (p. 759). See also 
Valois. 304 and M. K. Werner, 
Wilhelms von Auvergne VerMlt- 

niss z. d. Platonikern des XII 
Jhts, in Vienna Sitzh., vol, 74 
(1873), p. 119 et seq. 

* See I-ii-30, (p. 694) for an 
expression of this view. 



of his 
of magic. 

Its main 

ligion by holding that one thing is true in philosophy and 
quite another in theology. Thus he affirms that one who 
says that the stars and lights of the sky do not receive ad- 
dition or improvement, speaks the truth if the matter is 
regarded from the standpoint of natural science, for nature 
cannot add anything to their natural perfection. "Yet you 
ought to know that learned Christian doctors teach . . . and 
the prophets seem to say expressly that they will undergo 
improvement." ^ It is, then, as we said to begin with, the 
account of magic, demons, occult virtue, divination, astrol- 
ogy and experimental science, of a theologian not ignorant 
of nor unsympathetic with science that we have now to con- 

William's account of magic is a remarkable and illu- 
minating one. Most of it occurs in the closing chapters of 
the De iiniverso. William himself there states that nothing 
has come down from previous writers on the things of 
which he has just been speaking.^ He admits that his re- 
marks are incomplete but he has at least made a beginning 
which will prove welcome to the reader. Probably, however, 
he is indebted to previous Christian writers; at any rate we 
recognize some of his statements as familiar. But he also 
has a wide acquaintance with the literature of magic itself — 
in his youth he examined the books of judicial astronomy 
and the books of the magicians and sorcerers ^ — and he com- 
bines the results of his reading in a sane manner. We 
feel that his view is both comprehensive, including all the 
essential factors, and marked by insight into the heart of the 
situation. For his time at least he sees remarkably clearly 
what magic is, what it cannot do, and how it is related to 
the science of that age. 

The chief characteristics of magic as it is depicted by 
William may first be briefly summarized, and then illustrated 
in more detail. He constantly assumes that its great aim 
is to work marvels. He holds that often the ends are sought 

'I-ii-3i, (p. 69s). 
•II-iii-23, (pp. 1003-4). 

^Dc legibus, Cap. 25, (p. 75). 


by the help of demons and methods which are idolatrous. 
Evil ends are often sought by magicians. On the other hand 
the apparent marvels are often worked by mere human 
sleight-of-hand or other tricks and deceptions of the magi- 
cians themselves. But the marvel may be neither human de- 
ceit nor the work of an evil spirit. It may be produced by 
the wonderful occult virtues resident in certain objects of 
nature. To marvels wrought in this manner William ap- 
plies the name "natural magic," and has no doubt of its 
truth. But he denies the validity of many methods and 
devices in which magicians trust, and contends that marvels 
cannot be so worked unless demons are responsible. Wil- 
liam furthermore constantly cites books of experiments and 
narrates the feats of "experimenters" in discussing magic, 
and he often implies a close connection of it with astronomy 
or astrology. Here again as in the case of natural magic 
we see an intimate connection between the development of 
magic and of natural science. Finally, these various char- 
acteristics and varieties of magic are not always kept dis- 
tinct by William, but often overlap or join. The demons 
avail themselves of the forces of nature in working their 
marvels and their marvels too are often only passing illusions 
and empty shams. The experimenters and operators of 
natural magic also deal in momentary effects and deceptive 
appearances as well as in more solid results. 

William holds then that much of magic is performed by Demons 
the aid of demons and involves the worship of them or other ^"*^ magic, 
forms of idolatry.^ One reason why magic feats are so sel- 
dom performed in Christian lands and William's own time 
is that the power of the evil spirits has been so repressed by 
Christianity. But the books of the magicians and of the 
sorcerers assume the existence of armies of spirits in the 
sky.2 In the necromantic operation called "The Major Cir- 
cle" four kings of demons from the four quarters of the 
earth appear with numerous attendants according to the 
* I-ii-2i, (p. 680) : II-iii-7, (p. biis, Cap. 24, (p. 73) : II-ii-29, (p. 
973)- 820). 

'II-iii-23, p. (1003): De legi- 


Statements of those who are skilled in works of this sort.^ 
William has also read in the books of experiments that water 
can be made to appear where there really is none by use of a 
bow of a particular kind of wood, an arrow of another kind 
of wood, and a bow-string made of a particular sort of 
cord.^ As far as an arrow is shot from this bow so far one 
is supposed to behold an expanse of water. But William 
does not believe that the bow and arrow possess any such 
virtues, and hence concludes that the mirage is an illusion 
produced by the demons and that the ceremony performed 
by the magician is a service to the evil spirits. Another 
writer in his book of necromancy bids one to take as an obla- 
tion such and such a wood or stone or liquor on such a day 
at such an hour. Here too, perhaps because of what he re- 
gards as superstitious observance of times and seasons, Wil- 
liam holds that the word "oblation" covers some diabolical 
servitude or cult, which has been concealed by the writers of 
such experiments. He also states that sorcerers and idolaters 
often go off into deserts to have dealings with the demons 
who dwell there. ^ He cites "a certain magician in his book 
on magic arts" who says that in order to philosophize he 
went to places destitute of any inhabitant and there lived for 
thirty years with those who dwelt in light and learned from 
them what he has written in his book. 
Magic and In his treatise De legibus William, like Maimonides, 

idolatry. endeavors to explain some of the questionable provisions 
and prohibitions in the Mosaic law as measures to guard 
against idolatry and magic. ^ Under the head of idolatry he 
groups not only the worship of idols proper and of demons, 
but also superstitious observance of the stars, the elements, 
images, figures, words and names, times and seasons, begin- 
nings of actions and finding objects.^ In another passage 
he adds the observance of dreams, auguries, constellations, 
sneezes, meetings, days and hours, figures, marks, charac- 

*II-iii-7, (p. 971). * See Cap. 13 (p. 43) and before 

Ml-iii-22, (p. 998). 'Cap. 23, (p. 65). 

'' De legibus. Cap. 9, (pp. 38-39). 



ters and images.^ Also incantation is not without idolatry. 
Thus many features of the magic arts are condemned by 

We come next to those magic works which are "mock- Magic 
eries of men or of demons." - First there are those trans- 
positions which are accomplished by agility and hability of 
the hands and are popularly called tractationes or traiecta- 
tiones. They are a source of great wonderment until men 
learn how they are done. A second variety are mere appari- 
tions which have no truth. Under this head fall certain 
magic candles. One made of wax and sulphurated snake- 
skin, burned in a dark place filled with sticks or rushes makes 
the house seem full of writhing serpents. William's expla- 
nation of this is that the powdered snakeskin as it burns 
makes the rushes appear similar in color to serpents, while 
the flickering of the flame gives the illusion that they are 
moving. Possibly, however, this may be a defective recipe 
for some firework like the modern "snake's nest." William 
is more sceptical whether in the light of a candle made of 
wax and the tears or semen of an ass men would look like 
donkeys. He doubts whether wet tears would mix with 
wax or burn if they did, and whether these internal fluids 
possess any of the substance, figure, and color of an ass's ex- 
ternal appearance. He concedes nevertheless that the semen 
has great virtue and that the sight is of all senses the most 
easily deceived. At any rate "experimenters" {experimen- 
fatores) have said things of this sort, and you may read in 
the books of experiments a trick by which anyone's hand 
is made to appear an ass's foot, so that he blushes to draw 
it from his bosom. ^ 

The work of necromancy called "The Major Circle" is 
also in the nature of a delusive appearance. The four demon 
kings from the four quarters of the earth seem to be ac- 
companied by vast hosts of phantom horsemen, jugglers, and 

* Cap. 14, (pp. 44-45). daemonum nuncupantur. 

'II-iii-22, (p. 998) . . . opera ' II-iii-7, (p. 971): II-iii-12, (pp. 

huiusmodi quae opera magica et 977-79). 
ludificationes vel hominum vel 


musicians, but no prints of horses' hoofs are visible after- 
wards. Moreover, if real horsemen appeared, they would 
be seen by everyone, not merely by those within the magic 
circle. Another common apparition, produced by "these 
sorcerers and deceivers" by means of sacrifices and other 
evil observances which William will not reveal, is a wonder- 
ful castle with gates, towers, walls, and citadel all complete. 
But it is seen only during the magic operation and when it 
vanishes leaves no trace behind. William compares such 
illusions to some fantastic dream which leaves behind 
nothing but horror on the faces of the participants. He ar- 
gues that if corporeal things outside us make the strong im- 
pression on our senses that they do, it is no wonder if spir- 
itual substances like demons who are full of forms can im- 
press our minds potently. It will, of course, occur to the 
modern reader that such illusions, like certain marvels 
of India, were perhaps produced by hypnotic or other sug- 
gestion. William notes that illusions of this sort are shown 
only to the gullible and "those ignorant of natural science," 
and that necromancers dare not produce or suggest such 
phantasms in the presence of learned and rational men. 
Natural There are, nevertheless, occult forces and powers in 

magic. nature and those men who are acquainted with them work 

many marvels and would work much more wonderful ones, 
if they had an abundant supply of the necessary materials.^ 
This is "that part of natural science which is called natural 
magic." ^ "Philosophers call it necromancy or philosophica, 
perhaps quite improperly, and it is the eleventh part of all 
natural science." This rather strange association of necro- 
mancy with natural science for which William seems to apol- 
ogize, we shall meet again in Albertus Magnus and we have 
already met with it in Gundissalinus, Daniel of Morley, and 
Al-Farabi. With them, however, necromancy was one of 
only eight parts of natural science or astrology. In a 
third passage William omits mention of necromancy, but 

^II-iii-2i, (pp. 997-998) natura- *I-i-43, (p- 612): De legibus, 

rum vires et potentias occultas, Cap. 24, (p. 67). 




again asserts that certain marvels are natural operations and 
that knowledge of them is one of the eleven parts of natural 
science.^ It is with it that the books of experiments are es- 
pecially concerned.^ From them and from "the books of 
natural narrations" you can learn "the causes and reasons 
of certain magic works, especially those which are by the 
art of natural magic." The materials possessed of the mar- 
velous virtues essential for this art are very rare in Europe, 
but in India and lands near it they abound, and hence natural 
magic flourishes vigorously there, and there are many ex- 
perimenters there who work marvels by their skill. ^ 

Between this natural magic and that due to demons Natural 
William makes a decided distinction.'* In natural magic '"ot^con- 
nothing is done by the aid of demons. The workers of the cerned 
one are called magi because they do great things {magna demons. 
agent es) although some may have evilly interpreted the word 
as meaning evil-doers (male agentes).^ And these others 
who perform such works by the aid of demons are to be 
regarded as evil-doers. William indeed perhaps uses the 
word malefici (sorcerers) more often than magi for workers 
of evil magic, but he cannot be said to observe any such dis- 
tinction uniformly. He does, however, express his intention 
of setting forth "the causes and ways and methods" by 
which even the phantasies and illusions of magic are pro- 
duced naturally, but of "perditious methods such as nefari- 
ous sacrifices and oblations and sacrilegious observances" he 
intends to reveal nothing.^ In natural magic William seems 
to see no harm whatever, unless it is employed for evil ends. 
He grants, however, that some of its works are so marvelous 
that they seem to the ignorant to be the works of gods or 
demons, and that this has been one cause of idolatry in times 
past.'^ So in order that Christianity might prevail, it was 
ordered that anyone performing such works should be con- 
sidered evil and a sorcerer {mains et maleficus), and that 

^ De legibus, Cap. 14 (p. 44). 

* II-iii-22, (p. 999). 
•II-iii-23, (p. 1003). 

* De legibus, Cap. 14, (p. 46). 

"Il-iii-ai, (p. 998). 
'II-iii-i2, (p. 979). 
^ De legibus. Cap. 24, (pp. 67- 



Some in- 
stances of 

"The sense 
of nature." 

works of this sort should be regarded as performed not by 
the virtue of any natural object but rather by the aid and 
power of demons. But specialists in such matters are not 
"surprised at these feats but glorify the Creator alone in 
them, knowing that nature alone in accordance with His 
omnipotent will operates both in the customary manner 
known to men and contrary to custom not only in new ways 
but new things." In another context William again af- 
firms that natural magic involves no ofifense or injury to the 
Creator unless one works evil or too curiously by that art.^ 

One example of the marvels worked by means of natural 
magic is the sudden generation of such animals as frogs and 
worms. Here the natural processes of generation are 
hastened by applying certain aids, and William does not 
doubt the assertion of Emuth that by mixing seeds new 
animals can be bred.^ Other phenomena belonging under 
natural magic are the marvels worked outside its own body 
by the soul of the basilisk and certain other animals and 
certain human souls — a hint that the power of fascination is 
natural magic. ^ In short, all use of occult virtue in nature 
may be classed as natural magic. 

Of William's statements concerning occult virtue we 
shall hear more under that head. But we may note here what 
he says of "the sense of nature," ^ which he calls "one of 
the roots of natural magic," which he often mentions, and 
which in his opinion accounts for a number of wonderful 
things.^ It is "a sublimer sense than any human apprehen- 
sion and nobler and more akin to prophecy." By it one 
senses the presence in the house of a burglar or harlot who 
is otherwise unperceived by any of the ordinary senses. By 
it some dogs can detect a thief in a crowd. ^ It is the mys- 
terious power by which vultures foresee the coming battle, 
sheep detect the approach of the wolf, and the spider that 

'I-i-46, (p. 627). 
* De legibus, Cap. 24, ((pp. 67- 

'I-i-43, (p. 612). 

* "Sensus naturae," De legibus, 

Cap. 27, (p. 88). 

'See pp. 875, 876 and 983 as 
well as the following reference. 
I-i-46, (p. 624). 

*II-ii-7o, (p. 870). 


of the fly. William tells of a woman who could feel the 
presence of the man she loved when he was two miles dis- 
tant ^ and of another woman who so abhorred her husband 
that she fell into an epileptic fit whenever he entered the 
house.^ In the main, this sense of nature, seems about the 
same as what other writers call the power of natural divina- 
tion. William, however, in several cases accounts for it by 
the strong sympathy or antipathy existing between the two 
persons or animals concerned. 

While William accepts such marvels and strange forces, Magic's 
there are many claims of magic which he refuses to grant. ^ tremepre- 
As we shall see later he sets limits even to the powers of tensions, 
demons. Much less will he allow the extreme powers as- 
serted of human magicians. In the books of the magicians 
appear subversions of nature of every sort. They would 
bind fire so that it cannot burn, robbers that they may not 
steal in a certain region, a well or spring so that no water 
may be drawn from it, and so with merchants and ships. 
They would even stop water from flowing down hill. Wil- 
liam contends that such works are possible only by divine 
miracle, and that if the Chaldeans, Egyptians, and Arabs 
could really accomplish the lies in their books, they would 
have conquered the world long ago. Nay, the world would 
be at the mercy of any single magician or sorcerer (magi seu 
malefici). William then raises the objection that if two 
magicians tried to gain the same object at once, the magic 
of one or the other would prove a failure or they would 
both share an imperfect and half-way success, and in either 
case the promises of their art would prove a failure. The 
same logic might be applied to the advice how to succeed 
given to young men by some of our "self-made" millionaires 
(are they tjiagi or maleficif) who have exploited natural re- 
sources. William, however, goes on to explain that the 
books of magic say that not all artificers are equally skil- 

*II-ii-69, (p. 869). M-i-46, (p. 62s). 

'II-ii-70, (p. 870). 





ful or born under a lucky star. He points out the limita- 
tions of Pharaoh's magicians in much the usual manner.^ 

William not only denies that magic can attain some ex- 
treme results, but also denies that some of the methods em- 
ployed in magic are suited or adequate to the ends aimed 
at. He especially attacks the employment of images and 
characters, words, names, and incantations. The use of wax 
images in magic to harm the person or thing of whom the 
image is made seems to him a futile proceeding. He will not 
believe that Nectanebo — the magician of the Pseudo-Callis- 
thenes, it will be remembered — could sink the ships of the 
enemy by submerging wax images of them.^ Such magic 
images possess neither intelligence nor will, nor can they 
act by bodily virtue, since that requires contact either direct 
or indirect to be effective.^ H someone suggests that they 
act by sense of nature, he should know that inanimate ob- 
jects are incapable of this.^ The only way in which the oc- 
casional seemingly successful employment of such images 
can be accounted for is that when the magician does any- 
thing to the image, demons inflict the same sufferings upon 
the person against whom the image is used, and thus deceive 
men into thinking that the virtue of the image accomplishes 
this result.^ 

Hermes Trismegistus speaks to Asclepius in the Liber de 
hellera or De deo deorum of terrestrial gods, associated each 
with some material substance, such as stones and aromatics 
which have the natural force of divinity in them.*' Hermes, 
however, distinguished from natural gods "factitious gods," 
or statues, idols, and images made by man. into which "the 
splendor of deity and virtue of divinity" is poured or im- 
pressed by celestial spirits or the heavens and stars, "and 
this with observation of the hours and constellations when 
the image is cast or engraved or fabricated." William re- 
grets to say that traces of this error still prevail "among 

*II-iii-22, (p. looo). 
'I-i-46, (p. 625). 
n-i-46, (p. 626). 
*I-i-46, (p. 624). 

■1-1-46, (p. 627). 
^ De legibus, Cap. 
II-iii-22, (p. 999). 

2Z, (p. 64) 


many old women, and Christians at that." And they say 
that sixty years after their manufacture these images lose 
their virtue. William does not believe that there is divinity 
in stones or herbs or aromatics, or that men can make gods 
of any sort.^ Minds and souls cannot be put into statues,^ 
and William concludes that Trismegistus "erred shamefully" 
and "was marv^elously deceived by the evil spirits them- 
selves." ^ He also calls impossible "what is so celebrated 
among the astrologers (astronotnos) , and written in so many 
of the books, namely, that a statue will speak like a man 
if one casts it'of bronze in the rising of Saturn.^ 

William likewise holds that characters or figures or im- Charac- 
pressions or astrological images have no force unless they figures, 
are tokens by which the evil spirits may recognize their wor- 
shipers.^ There is no divinity in the angles of Solomon's 
pentagon. William states that some are led into this error 
from their theories concerning the stars, and that the idol- 
atrous cult of the stars distinguishes four kinds of figures: 
seals, rings, characters, and images.*' Such are the rings and 
seal of Solomon with their "execrable consecrations and de- 
testable invocations." Even more unspeakable is that image 
called idea Salomonis et entocta, and the figure known as 
mandel or amandel. So excessive are the virtues attributed 
to such images that they belong only to God, so that it is 
evident that God has been shorn of His glory which has 
been transferred to such figures. Artesius in his book on the 
virtue of words and characters asserts that by a certain magic 
figure he bound a mill so that the wheels could not turn.'^ 
But William is incredulous as to such powers in characters. 
He thinks that one might as well say that virtue of the figure 
would run the mill without water or mill-wheels. H the mill 
did stop, it must have been the work of demons. Nor can 
William see any sense in writing the day and hour when 
thunder was heard in that locality on the walls of houses in 

^De legihus, Cap. 26, (p. 82). ^ Ibid., Cap. 27, (pp. 86-87). 

^Ibid.. Cap. 27. (pp. 84 ff.). " 87). 

'II-iii-22. (p. 999). ^ Ibid.. Cap. 23, (p. 65). 

*De legibus, Cap. 26, (p. 84). '11-111-23, (P- 1003). 



of words 

Use of 


order to protect them from lightning.^ It seems to him an 
attribution of the strongest force to the weakest sort of an 
incidental occurrence. 

William indeed denies that there is magic power in mere 
words or incantations. Mere words cannot kill men or ani- 
mals as sorcerers claim. ^ William argues scholastically that 
if spoken words possessed any such virtue they must derive 
it either from the material of which they are composed, air, 
or from their form, sound; or from what they signify. Air 
cannot kill unless it is poisoned by a plague, dragon, or toad. 
Sound to kill must be deafening. If what is signified by the 
word is the cause, then images, which are more exact like- 
nesses, would be more powerful than words. William's 
opinion is that when sorcerers employ magic words and in- 
cantations they are simply calling upon the demons for aid, 
just as the worshipers of God sometimes induce Him to 
work wonders by calling upon His name. 

This brings William to the delicate question of divine 
names. He censures the use of the name of God by "magi- 
cians and astronomers" in "working their diabolical mar- 
vels." ^ He also notes that they employ a barbaric name 
and not one of the four Hebrew names of God. They for- 
bid anyone who is not pure and clad in pure vestments to 
presume to touch the book in which this name is written, 
but they try to gain evil ends by it and so blaspheme against 
their Creator. William, however, seems to feel that the 
names of God have a virtue not found in ordinary words 
and he states that not only servants of God but even wicked 
men sometimes cast out demons by making use of holy 

In short, incantations possess no efficacy, but exorcisms 
do. This is an indication, not merely of William's logical 
inconsistency, but also of the existence of a Christian or ec- 
clesiastical variety of magic in his day. He will not believe 
in Nectanebo's wax images, but he believes that the forms 

^De legibus, Cap. 27, (p. 89). 'Ibid., (p. 89). 

'Ibid., (pp. 87-88). 




of wax which have the likeness of lambs receive through 
the benediction of the pope the virtue of warding off thun- 
derbolts.^ He denied that magic words had efiftcacy through 
their sound but he affirms that consecrated bells prevent 
storms within the sound of their ringing, and that salt and 
water which have been blessed obtain the power of expelling 
demons. William, however, takes refuge in God's omnipo- 
tent virtue to explain the efficacy of these Christian charms. 

Magic appears to have always devoted considerable at- 
tention to matters of sex and generation, and William's 
works give one or two instances of this. He states that sor- 
cerers investigate the cohabiting of certain animals, thinking 
that if they kill them at that hour they will obtain from their 
carcasses potent love-charms and aids to fecundity.- We 
are also told that men have tried to produce, and thought 
that they succeeded in producing human life in other ways 
than by the usual generative process.^ "And in the books of 
experiments may be found mockeries of women similar to 
those which the demons called incubi work and which cer- 
tain sorcerers have attempted and left in writing for pos- 
terity." They have recorded a delusive experiment by which 
women who have been known only once or twice think that 
this has occurred fifty or sixty times. 

As has been already incidentally suggested, William of- 
fers considerable information as to the bibliography of magic 
in his day. Besides his many general allusions to works of 
magic, writings of sorcerers and prestidigitateurs and as- 
trologers and books of exf>eriments, he mentions several 
particular works ascribed to Aristotle and Avicenbros, to 
Hermes Trismegistus and Solomon, the "cursed book" of 
Cocogrecus on "Stations to the cult of Venus" and, what is 
perhaps the same, of Thot grecus on "The cult of Venus." * 
An Artesius or Arthesius, whom in one passage he calls a 
magician and cites concerning divination by water and whom 
in another passage he calls both a magician and a philoso- 

Magic of 
sex and 

tion to the 
raphy of 

^ De legibus, Cap. 27, (p. 84). 
'Ibid., Cap. 4, (p. 34)- 

*II-iii-25, (p. loio). 
MI-ii-96, (p. 895). 



Plan of 
the rest 
of this 


theory of 

pher who had written a book on the virtue of words and 
characters/ is probably the same Artesius who is cited con- 
cerning divination by the rays of the sun or moon in hquids 
or mirrors in a work of alchemy in a twelfth century manu- 
script,- and further identical with the Artephius who 
Roger Bacon says lived for one thousand and twenty-five 
years, ^ to whom a treatise is ascribed in the Theatnun 
Chymicum * and a Sloane manuscript,^ and who seems to 
have been the same as Altughra'i, a poet and alchemist who 
died in 1128.^ There also are a number of magic books of 
which William does not give the author's name or the title, 
but of which he gives descriptions or from which he makes 
citations which would be sufficiently definite to identify the 
works should one meet with them elsewhere. In our chap- 
ters on pseudo-literature and experimental literature we treat 
of many of these works. 

From our survey of magic proper as delineated in Wil- 
liam's works we now turn to what he represents as the two 
chief forces in magic, namely, the demons and the occult 
virtues in nature, and to two subjects which he closely con- 
nects with magic, namely, divination and astrology. These 
four topics will be taken up separately in the order stated. 

Since William attributes so much of magic to demons, it 
is important to note what he has to say concerning these 
"spiritual substances." He proposes to follow as his sources 
on the subject "authentic accounts" (sennones aitthentici) : 
first of all the statements of the divinely inspired prophets, 
and after that the opinions of the philosophers and also of 
the magicians. He observes elsewhere, however, that there 
is a lack of literature on the subject; the sages have only 
dipped into it and not yet plumbed it to its depths : in fact, 
only the treatise of Avicenbros has come to his hands, and 

' De imiverso, pp. 996-7, also 
1003; De legibus, cap. 27 (p. 89). 

'Berlin 956, 12th century, fol. 
21, Hie incipit alchamia. . . . 

' Bridges, II, 212. 

* Theatrum Chymicum. Stras- 
burg, 1613, IV, 221. 

* Sloane 11 18, 15th century, 
{28. Arthephii capitulum ex 
opere solis extractum. 

° Gildemeister in Zeitsch. d. 
Deutsch. Morgenl. Ges. XXXIII, 
534: cited by Lippmann (1919), 


while that authority has said and written many subHme 
things, far removed from popular comprehension, still he 
has made only a beginning in this field. ^ William also util- 
izes, however, the works of Hermes Trismegistus " and 
other books of necromancy and magic — among them Thot 
Graecus ^ — the testimony of medical men ^ and "innumer- 
able experiences" of men at large. ^ 

William professes himself open to conviction and new 
light on the question of the assumption of bodies by good 
and bad spirits.^ And it must be said that his whole treat- 
ment of spirits is full of inconsistencies and difficulties. Part 
of the time he draws a hard and fast line between spiritual 
substances and physical creation, but only part of the time. 
He also essays the difficult task of explaining how and to 
what extent these spiritual substances are able to disturb 
physical creation, and how far they in turn are affected by it. 

To begin with, William takes up the difficult position — Spirits 
or rather he makes it difficult for himself — but the usual one h"^yg„g 
with medieval theologians, that angels occupy physical space 
and are located in their own heaven as the stars are in theirs.'^ 
Some modern believers in spiritualism hold a very similar 
position.^ He also declares that the tenth and last or empy- 
rean heaven will be the eternal abode of men whose souls are 
saved, although the resurrected bodies of the saved would 

^ De legibus, Cap. 26, (pp. 81- but in the watery or crystalline 

82) : I-i-44, (p. 613). (heaven) which is above the 

' De universo II-ii-37, (p- 831) : firmament. Which they even pre- 

Il-ii-ioo (p. 898). sume to say of the blessed virgin. 

'Ibid., II-ii-g6, (p. 895). On the contrary it should be be- 

* Ibid., II-iii-13, (p. 982) : Il-iii- lieved that there is the same place 
24, (p. 1007). for holy angels and souls of the 

^ Ibid.. II-ii-63, (p. 860): Il-ii- blest, namely, the empyrean 

70, (p. 871) : II-iii-6, (p. 968) : II- heaven," etc. 

iii-i", (p. 988). The eighth error was "that an 

'Ibid., II-iii-24, (p. 1007). angel can in the same instant be 

' Ibid., II-ii-84 and 85, (pp. in different places and is every- 

885-6). where if he wishes to be every- 

* Among errors condemned at where." 

Paris in 1240 by William as bishop These errors and various other 
the seventh was "that neither sets of errors condemned at Paris 
glorified souls nor glorious or and Oxford are printed in an in- 
glorified bodies will be in the cunabulum numbered lA. 4778 in 
empyrean heaven with the angels the British Museum. 



Will hell 
be big 
enough ? 

cal necro- 

presumably still be corporal substances.^ This raises the fur- 
ther difficulty that apparently the empyrean heaven cannot 
be the abode of the angels, as some theologians and saintly 
doctors have held ( for a corporal place cannot be filled except 
with corporal substances), for those superficial persons who 
mock the authentic divine revelation of scripture will say 
that "if that heaven is a corporal place it cannot be filled ex- 
cept by corporal substances." 

Another point which puzzles William is whether there 
will be room in hell for all the evil spirits and resurrected 
bodies of the damned destined to make it their ultimate 
abode. The infernal regions, located in the interior of our 
terrestrial globe, seem very small to him compared with the 
vast expanse of the empyrean heaven which is even greater 
than that of the fixed stars. And our earth is a mere dot 
compared to the sphere of the fixed stars. If then that en- 
tire empyrean heaven is to be filled with glorified men, how 
shall the infernal regions hold all the damned? ^ It will be 
seen that Dante's later cosmology is very similar to Wil- 

William will not agree, however,^ with the books of 
magic and the masters of images and illusions that the starry 
heavens and even single planets are inhabited by spirits so 
that the circle of the moon has fifty ministering spirits and 
that there are also angels in the twelve signs of the zodiac. 
On the other hand, in an earlier chapter he makes the state- 
ment that he has never heard anywhere even in magic books 
of demons with power over celestial bodies.^ William is of 
the opinion that Aristotle was deceived by an evil spirit into 
boasting that a spirit had descended to him from the circle 
of Venus. ^ William argues that the starry heavens are 

^ De universo I-i-34. (P- 595 ff)- 
Also Cap. 43 (pp. 609 to 611). 

*Who William believes will 
exceed the saved in numbers : "De 
multitudine vero damnandorum 
omnis lex determinatum habet 
apud se quod multo maior futura 
sit multitudine glorificandorum." 

The passage has already been 
quoted in HL XVIII, 371-2. 

^ Dc le gibus, Cap. 24, (p. 73.) De 
universo II-ii-96, (p. 895). 

Ubid., II-ii-70, (p. 871). 

^ Ibid., II-ii-39 and 98, (pp. 833 
and 897) and II-iii-6, (p. 967) : 
also II-ii-96, (p. 89s). 



False ac- 
counts of 

rational and able to regulate themselves and do not require 
any ministering angels; and on the other hand that the no- 
bler spirits would not debase themselves by ministering to 
mere celestial bodies} William's own theory is that demons 
dwell in the air about the earth and not in the planetary 
heavens. He also speaks in one passage of their especially 
frequenting deserts.^ 

William also rejects ^ some non-Christian assertions con- 
cerning fallen angels. One is the statement of the author of 
a book of sorcery, who claimed to have communed with ^"gels. 
spirits thirty years, to the effect that new spirits are created 
daily, and that there are twelve orders of them, and that every 
day a multitude of them fall and that they fall into different 
regions of the earth and there rule — some in deserts, some 
in woods, some in fountains and rivers, some in herbs and 
trees, some in gems and stones, which thus derive their mar- 
vel-working qualities from them. The other account re- 
jected by William is a pretty story from Hermes to this ef- 
fect.^ When two angels were criticizing mankind harshly 
for its sinfulness God incarnated them to see how much bet- 
ter they would do. Both promptly fell in love with a beau- 
tiful woman who would return their love only on condition 
that they renounce God. When they had done even this, 
God called them to heaven, reproved them for not having 
justified their criticism of sinful mankind, and told them to 
choose now their place of punishment. They selected the air, 
but later through the prayers of a prophet in Babylon were 
shut up in a cave to await their final punishment at the last 

William of course makes the usual sharp Christian dis- Different 
tinction between good spirits or angels and bad spirits or spirits, 
demons. It is the latter alone, rather than spiritual sub- 
stances in general, whom he connects with magic, although 
naturally the magicians themselves often claim to employ 

^ De universo. II-ii-97, (p. 896). 
' De legibus, Cap. 9, (pp. 38-39). 
^ De universo, II-ii-29, (p. 820) 

and II-iii-6 to 8, (pp. 966 to 973). 
Ubid., II-ii-37, (P- 831): Il-ii- 
100, (p. 898). 



control of 

good spirits. William is in doubt whether fauns and pyg- 
mies and some other monsters are demons or animals or 
men.^ He also lists satyrs, joculatores, incubi, succubi, 
nymphs, Lares, Penates and other old Latin names such as 
cloacina, Lucina, limitanus, priapus, genius, hymenns.^ He 
regards as a delusion the belief fostered by old-wives in 
demons who injure infants.^ Despite his mention of incubi 
and succubi and despite the verses of Scripture about the sons 
of God and the daughters of men and that woman ought to 
veil her head on account of the angels, he regards demons 
as incapable of sexual intercourse with human beings, but 
he thinks it possible that they may juggle with nature so as 
to produce the effects of sexual intercourse.^ He mentions 
the belief in a demon who comes to cellars at night in 
v/omen's clothing and bestows abundance and prosperity 
where food and drink is left uncovered for it to partake 
of, which it does without diminishing the quantity. "And 
they call her satia from satiety." 

What is the extent of the control over matter exercised 
by the demons in performing marvels? In discussing what 
demons can and cannot perform in the ways of marvels, 
William's decisions seem rather arbitrary and capricious.^ 
He grants them superhuman powers of divination and says 
that it has been repeatedly proved that they know when in- 
vocations and sacrifices are made to them.^ But the appari- 
tions which they produce are neither real objects nor images 
in the air but thoughts and pictures in the mind of the be- 
holder."^ The armies of horsemen produced by necromancers 
leave no prints of hoofs behind them and their elaborate cas- 
tles with gates, towers, walls, and citadel completely vanish 
without leaving a trace.® This explains how enchanters and 
magicians can apparently cut horses in two, although Wil- 
liam grants it not unlikely that there may be other ways of 

^ De universo, II-iii-7, (p. 97jq). 
'Ibid., II-iii-i2, (pp. 976-7)." 
'Ibid., TI-iii-24, (p. 1004). 
*Ibid., II-iii-25, (pp. 1009-10). 
'Ibid., II-iii-23, (p. 1000). 

' De Icgibus, Cap. 24, (p. 67). 
'' De universo, I-ii-2l, (p. 680), 
and II-ii-63, (p. 860). 
^ Ibid., II-iii-i2, (p. 979). 




doing this for those "who know the marvellous occult vir- 
tues of many things." William also discusses how demons 
can toss sticks and stones about, throw persons out of bed, 
and transport men or huge rocks for great distances when 
they have neither necks nor shoulders to carry them on.^ 
This is no more strange, he says, than the magnet's ability 
to draw iron.- He believes that the virtue of spiritual sub- 
stances can overcome weight which holds bodies at rest and 
produce lightness which makes motion easy. It was thus 
that an angel transported one of the Hebrew prophets to 
Babylon by a lock of his hair. It is doubtful, however, if 
this last could have been accomplished save by divine aid. 
He doubts furthermore if horses could be generated as the 
frogs were by the Egyptian magicians of Pharaoh. The 
generation of frogs is a much easier and more rapid process. 
Also the wax lights which mysteriously appear in stables on 
the horses' manes and tails would be easy for demons to 
make.^ But William disbelieves in such magic transforma- 
tions as werwolves. His explanation is that the devil first 
made the man imagine himself a wolf and then caused a real 
wolf to appear and frighten people.^ Demons cannot make 
idols or images speak, but when the bodies of human beings 
are possessed by demons, they form voices after a fashion, 
although, as exorcists have assured him, in a raucous tone 
unlike the usual human voice, probably because the vocal 
chords respond but indifferently to demoniacal abuse of 

William is sure that demons cannot be imprisoned against Can 
their will in material bodies, whether rings, gems, mirrors, be'jj^"^ 

or glass phials such as Solomon is said to have shut them prisoned 
... . . . or enter 

up in.^ William argues that if a man died in a huge corked bodies? 

bottle his soul would be able to get out. William, however, 

believes his Bible when it tells him of demons shut up in 

men whom "they vex with innumerable tortures," or in swine 

^De universo, II-ii-70, (p. 871).. 

*Ihid. (p. looi). 

* Ibid. (pp. 1003-1004). 

*Ihid., II-iii-13, (p. 983). 

^ De legibus, Cap. 26, (p. 83-4). 

' De legibus, Cap. 26, (p. 81). 



bility of 
demons to 
the four 
and to 

or in lakes/ although he declares that he does not adduce 
the case of demons in swine because it is recorded in the 
Bible but because it is attested by the experience of many. 
And he declares that even to his day demons give most cer- 
tain indication of their presence in lakes when stones are 
thrown in or they are provoked by some other movement or 
sound.- He states, however, that many medical men deny 
that human beings are possessed by demons and attribute 
the seizures and agitations to fumes and vapors.^ Many 
skilled doctors also dispute the existence of the nocturnal 
demon called ephialtes and attribute the oppressive feeling 
to action of the heart and not to the weight of a demon. 
In this instance William is inclined to agree with the physi- 
cians.^ William holds that it is useless to strike at demons 
when they appear before you, for you merely beat the air, 
as many experiments have shown. ^ But he believes that 
demons can be punished not only by material hell fire but 
by contact with the other three elements, air, earth and water. 
Demons feel any affront offered or indignity done them 
very keenly so that saints have often routed them by a volley 
of spit. William is also inclined to accept the "ancient opin- 
ion among the Romans" that human urine dissolves works 
of magic.® Furthermore there are several natural objects 
which have the occult virtue of driving away demons^ a 
peony suspended from the neck — Galen's old remedy for the 
epileptic boy — or the top of the heart of a certain fish placed 
on the coals. If it is asked how it is that these proud spiritual 
substances are thus subject to the virtues of physical bodies, 
William can only answer that it is probably in consequence 
of their fall, which afso subjected them to hell fire. Wil- 
liam's logic simply reduces to this, that God can do anything 
He pleases with demons while men can do nothing with them 
against the demons' wills and without imperiling their own 

^ De universo, II-iii-6, (p. 968). 
'Ibid., II-iii-i7, (p. 987)- 
'Ibid., II-iii-13, (p. 982). 

*Ibid., II-iii-24, (p. 1007). 
'Ibid., II-iii-17, (p. 988). 
'Ibid., II-iii-22, (p. 999). 




William is as credulous concerning the marvelous powers Stock ex- 
attributed to herbs, gems and animals, and as anxious to natural ° 
find some plausible explanation of their validity, as he was marvels, 
sceptical in regard to images, characters and words. We 
encounter once more in his pages many of the stock examples 
of natural marvels which we have met again and again in 
previous writers and shall find in many writers after him. 
He rhapsodizes concerning the power of the magnet and 
mentions its three species according to Hermes (Mercu- 
rius).^ He tells of the phoenix, of the masculine and femi- 
nine palms; and of theriac.- Indeed, the magnet, the palms, 
and the story of the hazel rod told below are all introduced 
while William is supposedly discussing divine providence. 
In more than one passage he tells — perhaps directly from 
Pliny — of the stupefaction produced by the torpedo in per- 
sons who touch it only with a long stick, of the little echinus 
or remora which stops great ships, or of the powers of lion 
and basilisk, and of the gem heliotrope which aided by the 
virtue of the herb of the same name renders one invisible.' 
For this assertion concerning heliotrope, however, which 
Pliny stigmatized as an example of the magicians' impu- 
dence,^ William cites the writings of experimenters. 

On the other hand, a passage in William's work con- The hazel 
cerning the property of a hazel rod was repeated within a 
few years by at least three writers : Albertus Magnus, John 
of St. Amand, and Roger Bacon. William relates that men 
say that if the rod is split in two lengthwise the halves will 
approach one another again of their own accord and re- 
unite.^ Deceivers attribute this to the virtue of certain 
words which they utter, but it is by virtue and sense of 

William regards the occult virtue of things on this earth 
as so certain that he uses it to argue that the stars too must 

rod story. 

*I-iii-ii, (p. 731: also pp. 756- 


'I-ii-i6, (p. 668): II-iii-22 (p. 

'II-ii-73, (p. 873): II-m-22, (p. 

998) : II-iii-i6, (p. 986) 
(p. 621). 

* NH 37, 60. 

"I-iii-ii, (p. 731). 




virtues of 
herbs and 

possess great powers.^ This is attested "from the opera- 
tions of the virtues of other things, both animals and parts 
of them, also herbs, medicines, and stones." ^ Of medicines 
he especially recommends the empirica to the reader's con- 
sideration.^ The virtues of herbs have been proved to be 
very numerous and very marvelous.^ As for animals, after 
describing the virtues of the basilisk, William adds, "and 
when you have heard similar and maybe greater things con- 
cerning the occult virtues of other animals, you will not mar- 
vel at these." Among many medicines which prolong life 
he believes that the flesh of snakes has great renovating vir- 
tue," and among medicines supposed to produce visions and 
revelations he names the eye of an Indian tortoise and the 
heart of the hoopoe,'' which are thought to clear the soul of 
noxious vapors in sleep and pave the way for illuminations. 
William suggests that these substances may horrify one so 
as to shock the soul free from the body. He even mentions 
a medicine the smoke from which in the room in which one 
is sleeping will free the soul from the body so that it emerges 
into the region of light and the luminosity of the Creator.'^ 
And in the case of the little fish which binds ships so that 
they cannot move, he holds it indubitable that this cannot 
possibly be done by any bodily virtue which it possesses and 
must be by some spiritual virtue which exists in its soul.^ 
This reminds him of the power of the human imagination 
as shown in the case of the man who cast down a camel by 
merely imagining its fall.'"' 

^I-i-46, (p. 621). 

^ The influence of this passage 
is seen in a MS at Paris which 
was once the property of the 
humanist Bude : BN nouv. acq. 
433, anno i486, fol. i : Excerpta 
from William of Auvergne, "et 
primo ex capitulo de virtutibus 
occultis quorundam animalium 
herbarum et lapidum relatorum 
ad consideracionem astronomicam 
et astronomorum, ut plurimum, 

' II-ii-76 (p. 876), necnon et ex- 
emplis occuitarum operationum et 

mirabilium quaeque nonnulli 
medicorum et etiam quidam phi- 
losophorum naturalium empirica 
*II-iii-22, (p. 999). 

»I-i-59. (p. 639). 

' II-iii-2i, (p. 997). 

MI-iii-20, (p. 995). 

'II-iii-i6, (p. 986). 

" This illustration is also used 
by Peter of Abano, Conciliator, 
Diflf. 135 ; and is found in the 219 
opinions of Siger de Brabant and 
others condemned at Paris in 1277 
(see below. Chapter 62), 





To the virtues of gems William alludes a number of Virtues 
times. He recounts how the sapphire of its own motion °*s^"^s- 
springs into a diseased human eye and cleanses it of its nox- 
ious humors.^ He also finds it asserted that the emerald 
attracts riches to its owner and that the topaz checks the pas- 
sions of avarice, cupidity, luxury, and evil desire. He en- 
deavors to explain how it may be possible for the stone 
heliotrope to render one invisible ; as the power of the stone 
turns the brightness of the sunlight to a ruby shade, so it 
may be that the potency of its color prevents the spectators 
from discerning at all the color of the man who wears it, 
just as it is said that a musical instrument strung with snake- 
skin drowns the sound of all other instruments. - 

Some of the virtues ascribed to natural objects William A medley 
finds almost too marvelous for belief, but then strengthens 
his faith by recollecting some others which are more mar- 
velous still, as the following passage will illustrate.^ The 
experimenters have put in their books the marvelous state- 
ment that the presence of a serpent or of a reed containing 
some quicksilver afifects sorcerers and magicians so that their 
juggleries and incantations are of no avail. William, who 
it will be recalled had elsewhere denied the ability of a magic 
figure to stop a mill-wheel, is also inclined to question 
whether serpents or quicksilver have any power over evil 
spirits and incantations. But then he remembers that the 
experimenters also assert that a crab hung in mid-air keeps 
moles who move underground out of the field and that the 
herb peony drives devils out of demoniacs. Since the peony 
has many virtues necessary for men and demons hate men, 
William thinks it likely that they hate the herb too, and flee 
from it, when it is suspended about one's neck. And in one 
of the books of the Hebrews it is expressly stated that one of 
the holy angels said that the top of the heart of a certain fish 
placed on live coals would drive any kind of demon out of 
men or women. This book is received as authentic by both 

I-i-46, (p. 621). 
'II-iii-22, (p. 998). 

'II-iii-22, (p. 999). 



not an art 
but reve- 

by inspec- 
tion of 

Hebrews and Christians, and William also regards an arch- 
angel as a good authority. This being established, he sees 
no reason why a snake may not have power over demons too. 
He recalls too the ancient belief among the Romans that 
human urine dissolves all works of magic; the manifest fact 
that jasper drives away snakes and that eagles place it in 
their nests for this reason ; and that the gem achates or agate 
taken powdered in drink causes the unchaste to vomit. In 
Great Britain they test the morals of boys and girls by this 
experiment. This property of the agate causes William to 
marvel much, for he sees no connection between stones and 
virginity. However, if the agate is incompatible with un- 
chastity, what wonder if quicksilver will not tolerate the 
working of magic in its presence? 

It has been made evident that William accepts very ex- 
treme powers in natural objects and that with such resources 
the possibilities of his natural magic should be well-nigh un- 
limited. If he does not quite believe in all these marvels, he 
does not definitely deny them, and evidently enjoys repeating 

William states that the proper meaning of divination is 
imitation of the deity, but that the term is usually not applied 
to the revelations made by good spirits and prophets but to 
the revelation of hidden things, especially the future, by evil 
spirits.^ For he also affirms that divination is not a human 
art but a matter of revelation. The medical prognostications 
of physicians, although they may seem occult to other men, 
are based on experience of their art and astronomers are not 
called diviners but men of learning. While William may 
deny that the diviner is an artifcx, he has to admit that some 
diviners use tools or materials and so give their predictions 
the appearance of being based upon some art. 

Of this type is the practice of predicting the future by 
gazing upon polished and reflecting surfaces which are 
rubbed with oil to increase their lucidity.^ Among the sub- 

*II-iii-i8, (p. 989). 

^ Ibid, and De legibus. Cap. 24, (p. 68). 




Stances employed are mirrors, two-edged swords, children's 
finger-nails, egg shells, and ivory handles. Usually a boy 
or a virgin is employed to gaze thereupon, and sometimes 
exorcisms, adjurations, and observance of times are added. 
William affirms that many experiences have demonstrated 
that only one boy out of seven or ten sees anything therein, 
and he is of the opinion that the whole apparatus simply con- 
ceals "the impiety of diabolical sacrifices." Some ancient 
sages, nevertheless, notably Plato, have thought that the soul 
of the gazer is thrown back upon itself by the luminosity of 
the object seen and then exercises its latent powers of natural 
divination. We sometimes see such revelations by the irradi- 
ation of spiritual light in the insane, the very ill, dreamers, 
and those in whom because of great fright or care the mind 
is abstracted from the body.^ William therefore finally con- 
cludes that the theory of the philosophers as to divination 
by inspection of lucid bodies "is undoubtedly possible," but 
he still maintains that demons are often involved. 

William also tells us of an ancient Latin magician who Other in- 
believed that the soul of an immaculate boy who had been dlvinat^ion 
slain by violence would have knowledge of past, present and ancient 
future.^ He therefore murdered a boy, and then went in- modem. 
sane himself and imagined that he heard responses from the 
boy's soul. This was surely the work of demons. Other 
ancient philosophers blinded boys or themselves in order to 
increase the power of the soul in divination.^ William fur- 
ther mentions the old-wives of his own time who still per- 
sisted in divination and interpreting dreams and could not 
be made'to desist even by beatings.^ He states that these old 
women still cherished the superstition of the augurs that if 
you find a bird's nest wuth the mother bird and little ones or 
the eggs, and preserve it intact, all will go well with you, 
while if you harm it or separate any bird or tgg from it you 
will encounter ill fortune.^ 

*II-iii-2o, (p. 993). 
^II-iii-19, (p. 990). 
* II-iii-20. (p. 994). 

*I-iii-27, (pp. 750-51). 
^De legibus, Cap. 2, (p. 31). 



His treat- 
ment of 

The phi- 
on the na- 
ture of the 
and stars. 

own opin- 
ion and 

William has much to say in his various works of the 
heavens and the stars, and he rarely overlooks an opportunity 
to have a tilt with the astrologers. Most of his statements 
and arguments had been often employed before, however, 
and he also repeats himself a great deal, and his long-drawn 
scholastic listing and rebutting of supposed reasons pro and 
con at times becomes insufferably tedious. We shall there- 
fore compress his treatment to a very small space compared 
to that which it occupies in his own works and words. 

William states that Plato and Aristotle, Boethius, Her- 
mes Trismegistus, and Avicenna, all believed the stars to be 
divine animals whose souls were as superior to ours, as their 
celestial bodies are.-^ Since these philosophers regarded the 
stars as nobler, wiser, and more powerful than mortals, they 
made them guardians and guides of humanity, and distrib- 
uted all earthly objects under their rule. Such doctrines Wil- 
liam recalls examining when he was young in the books of 
judicial astrology and the volumes of magicians and sor- 
cerers, from whom he would appear to distinguish the above- 
named philosophers none too carefully. He indeed explicitly 
classes "Plato and Aristotle and their followers" with "those 
who believe in judgments of the stars." ^ He also tells us 
that Plato regarded the entire universe as one divine animal, 
and that his followers regarded the tides as the breathing of 
this world animal ; but that Aristotle and his school included 
only what is above the moon or even only the heaven of the 
fixed stars.^ Avicenna, too, called the heaven an animal 
obedient to God. 

William himself is inclined to think that the divisions 
and diversities of the nine spheres militate against their be- 
ing animated by a single soul ; and he rejects the theory that 
the world soul is composed of number and musical conso- 
nance.* But he leaves Christians free, if they will, to believe 
with the Aristotelians and many Italian philosophers that 

^ De legibus, cap. 25 (p. 75). 
univcrso. I-iii-27, (p. 751). 
"I-iii-28, (p. 753). 

De ''I-iii-27, (pp. 751-2). 

'I-iii-30, (p. 757). 


the superior world is either one or many animals, that the 
heavens are either animated or rational.^ In this he sees no 
peril to the Faith; but hitherto Hebrew and Christian doc- 
trine has not explored such matters, and Christians have 
been too absorbed in saving men's souls to note whether the 
heavens had souls or no. It would indeed be strange if 
William denied the starry heavens some sort of soul or souls 
when he has attributed one to a sea-fish like the echinus.^ 
But he declares that "it is manifest that human souls are 
nobler than those which they put in heavenly bodies." And 
he warns against the wicked error of identifying the Holy 
Spirit with the world soul. We have noted elsewhere his 
hostility to the theory of astrological necromancy that the 
heavens and stars are full of ministering spirits. He also 
contraverts the Aristotelian doctrines that there are as many 
intelligences moving the heavenly bodies as there are celestial 
motions and that the heavens love superior intelligences and 
strive to become assimilated to these.^ 

Like most Christian apologists William adopts the Objection 
argument that the stars, if rational, would not cause evils 35 cause 
and misfortunes such as astrologers predict, and seems to of evil, 
think that all the evil in the world can be charged to the ac- 
count of human perversity or the imperfections inherent in 
the matter of our inferior world, and that for these two 
sources of ill neither God nor the stars should be held re- 
sponsible.^ He recognizes, it is true, that someone may 
argue that these evils exist by the will of the Creator, whose 
will is nevertheless always good, but he does not seem to see 
that the same reasoning may be applied to the rule of the 
stars. He seems to regard as a new discovery of his own 
and a point hitherto unrecognized by astrologers, the argu- 
ment that ineptitude on the part of inferior matter receiving 
the force of the stars may account for many effects appar- 
ently due to the heavens. But in thinking this argument 
novel he is much mistaken. Really his only point here 

'I-iii-3i, (p. 759). 794): n-i-4, (p. 763). 

'I-ii-29, (p. 693). *I-i-46, (pp. 618-23). 

*I-ii-5, (p. 6so) : II-i-45. (P- 



of the 

Extent of 

their influ- 
ence upon 
and man. 

against astrologers is that some of them are careless in their 
phraseology and speak of the stars as causing evil, which 
he regards as blasphemy of Him who created the stars. 
"And all blasphemy against the Creator," continues William 
in a truculent and intolerant tone which reveals the spirit 
of the medieval inquisition, "is an impiety to be extermi- 
nated with fire and sword." 

William raises certain difficulties in regard to astrologi- 
cal technique only to answer them himself. And he grants 
that fixed stars which seem close together may really be 
separated by vast distances and so have very different virtue. 
And he cannot deny "many marvelous and occult virtues" in 
celestial bodies, when he admits "so many and so great oc- 
cult virtues" in terrestrial bodies. Indeed all philosophers 
agree that the virtues of the stars far surpass even those of 
precious stones. The variations in the heat of the sun, while 
its course continues constant, seem to William a sure indica- 
tion that the other planets and fixed stars participate in in- 
fluencing our world. 

While William was not unwilling to concede souls or 
reason to the stars, he believes that it is perilous for Chris- 
tians to regard the souls of the heavens as "governors of 
inferior things and especially of human affairs." ^ Those 
who hold that man's actions are caused of necessity by the 
motion of the sky and the positions of the stars, ruin, in his 
opinion, the foundations of law and morality.^ "Against 
that error, one ought not so much to dispute with arguments 
as fight with fire and sword." Some have argued that be- 
cause stars and lights were created before vegetation, animal 
life, and human beings, they are causes of these others, both 
generating and regulating them.-'' In favor of this conten- 
tion so much has been written that it can scarcely be read, 
says William, and the stars do give much aid in generation 
and in conservation of generated things, but not so much as 
the astrologers think. ^ They should not be consulted even 

'I-iii-28, (pp. 753-4). 
'I-iii-20, (p. 740). 

•I-i-42, (pp. 606-7). 
M-i-46, (pp. 627-8). 


as signs — rather than causes — in human concerns.^ In our 
sublunar world their power extends only to the four elements 
and four humors and only to such animals composed of 
these as lack free will and obey natural necessity. Thus Wil- 
liam really excludes only human free will and intellect from 
sidereal control,^ and he admits that "the multitude and pop- 
ulace from want of intelligence and other evil dispositions 
lives almost after the manner of brutes," following natural 
impulse to a great extent, so that astrologers may predict 
popular agitations and mob uprisings with a fair degree of 
accuracy, biit should not predict concerning individuals. 
Even in the case of individuals, however, he does not deny 
that natural virtues and vices are attributable to the stars, 
such vices, for instance, as irascibility, levity, and lubricity, 
which medical authorities ascribe not to moral fault but 
physical constitution.^ William would limit the influence of 
the stars not only by individual freedom of the will but by 
the power of prayer.^ He does not believe the decrees of 
fate so fixed and the laws of nature so unchangeable that 
God's wrath may not be placated by prayer, and freedom 
from any threatening evil obtained from His goodness. Be- 
lief in the power of the stars and belief in the power of 
prayers : which is the more superstitious, which the more 
nearly scientific? Or which belief has led to progress in 
science ? 

William complains that "Ptolemy and Haly and other Against 
astronomers" have attributed original sin and all its conse- jnterroga- 

quences to the constellations and hours of nativity, in that tions, and 

they have presumed to write books of horoscopes and na- 
tivities.^ He feels it "necessary to say something against 
that insanity" because of the great reputation such famous 
writers have among the "simple and stupid multitude" which 
regards them as profound sages and sublime prophets. Into 
William's particular arguments against the art of casting 
nativities, which much resemble the arguments of Augustine 

*I-iii-3l, (p. 759). *Ibid., (p. 626). 

'I-i-46, (pp. 628-9). '^De vitiis et peccatis, cap. 6, 

VfctU, (p. 620). (p. 264). 



and re- 
ligion and 

and John of Salisbury, we will not go. Elsewhere he also at- 
tacks the practice of interrogations.^ He also strongly ob- 
jects to the books which he says astrologers have written 
on discovering men's secret thoughts through the significa- 
tions of the stars. ^ 

William has much to say against astrological images, but 
his attitude has already been partially indicated in stating 
his attitude towards images, figures, and characters in gen- 
eral. He declares that belief in astrological images "dero- 
gates more from the honor and glory of the Creator than 
the error which attributes such virtue to the stars and lu- 
minaries themselves." It seems to him "a strange and quite 
intolerable error to think that stars which cannot help them- 
selves can bestow such gifts as invincibility, social graces, 
temperance or chastity." ^ Yet elsewhere we have heard him 
mention with seeming complaisance the bestowal of riches 
and checking of evil passions by emeralds and topazes. His 
best argument as against figures and characters in general 
is that such lifeless bodies cannot produce intellectual and 
moral effects in living human beings, especially when the 
engraved gems are, as is usual, hidden away somewhere, or 
buried underground. 

William condemns as error the association of the world's 
leading religions with the planets, as Judaism with Saturn, 
Islam with Venus, and Christianity with the sun.* The 
stars, he declares, are subject to religion, not religion to the 
stars, and Joshua made even the sun and moon stand still. 
William is candid enough to recognize that the seven- 
branched candlestick in the Jewish tabernacle designated the 
seven planets, but elsewhere states that the Mosaic Law for- 
bade observation of the stars. ^ William also considers the 
doctrine of the magniis annus or Platonic year, that after 
36,000 solar years history will repeat itself down to the 
minutest detail owing to the recurrence of the former series 

^ De legibiis, cap. 20, (p. 55). 
M-i-46, (p. 628). 
^ De universo, I-i-46, (pp. 622 
ff). De legihus, cap. 23, Cp. 65). 

*Ibid., cap. 20, (p. 53). 
'^ Ibid., cap. 2, (p. 31) 
(p. 628). 



of positions of the constellations.^ Since this has the sup- 
port of men of great reputation, he lists various arguments 
advanced in its favor and rebuts them in detail. 

William believes that comets appear in the sky and in Comets 
the air "as signs of slaughters and other gr^at events in the star of 
world." He mentions "the universal belief" that they fore- Bethle- 
tell the deaths of kings and political changes.- But he as- 
serts that the star announcing Christ's birth was not of this 
sort and that the darkness at the time of the Crucifixion was 
not due to an ordinary eclipse. 

*I-ii-i6 and 17, (pp. 667-9). ' I-i-46, (p. 629). 



De natura rerum; date, authorship, and relation to similar works — 
Life of Thomas — Character of the De natura rerum — Plan and con- 
tents — Chief authorities — Embodiment of long extracts — Other cita- 
tions — Credulous attitude — Very uncritical character of the Bonum 
universale de apibus — A chapter on the lion — Different kinds of lions : 
their generation — Disposition and behavior — Fear inspired and felt by 
lions — Their diet, medicine, and mode of fighting — Medical virtues of 
the lion's carcass — Medieval and modern encyclopedias compared — 
Examples of the zoology of the Experimenter — Fish, worms, and toads 
— Solomon's experiment in worms — Trees — Marvelous virtues of 
stones — An adamantine mariner's compass — The mariner's compass and 
magic — Occult virtues of sculptured gems — Thetel on images on 
stones — Zahel or Zael the Israelite — Consecration of gems — The seven 
metals : modern plumbing — The seven regions of the air — Astrological 
— Elements and spirits — Other works incorrectly ascribed to Thomas of 
Cantimpre — Appendix 1. The Manuscripts of the De natura rertim — 
Appendix II. Some Manuscripts of the Treatise of Thetel on Seals. 

De natura 
Date, au- 
and rela- 
tion to 

We now approach the consideration of two works with 
titles similar to Alexander Neckam's On the Natures of 
Things, namely, Thomas of Cantimpre's On the Nature of 
Things ^ and Bartholomew of England's On the Properties 

* Only extracts of the De natura 
rerum have been printed (by J. B. 
Pitra, Spicilcgium Solcsmense, 
III, and in HL and Ferckel as 
noted below). Some discussion 
of the MSS and a partial list of 
them will be found in Appendix 1 
to this chapter. I have chiefly 
used MSS Royal 12-E-XVII, 13th 
century; Royal 12-F-VI, 14th cen- 
tury; Egerton 1984, 13th century, 
fols. 34-145; Arundel 323, 13th 
century, fols. 1-98; and Arundel 
164, T5th century, at the British 
Museum ; and BN 347B and 523.'\ 
at Paris. As any topic to which 
a chapter is devoted can be found 
without much difficulty in these 

MSS, which are divided into books 
and chapters and equipped with 
tables of contents, I shall usually 
not take the time and space to 
make specific citations by folio 
in the ensuing chapter. 

Of Thomas's Bonum universale 
de apibus I have used the 15 16 

Some books and articles on 
Thomas and his natural science 
are : Bormans, "Thomas de Can- 
timpre indique comme une des 
sources ou Albert le Grand et 
surtout IMaerlant ant puise les 
materiaux de leur ecrits sur 
I'histoire naturelle" ; in Bulletins 
de I' Acad. rov. des Sciences de 



of Things. These two works are much longer and more 
elaborate than Neckam's, containing each nineteen books, 
whereas of his five books only two really dealt with the 
natures of things, and they lead up to the later and still bet- 
ter known natural encyclopedia of Vincent of Beauvais. 
Thomas and Bartholomew were contemporaries and it is dif- 
ficult to say whose book was finished or appeared first but we 
shall consider Thomas first. As he says that he spent four- 
teen or fifteen years in collecting his material, he perhaps 
began to write first and his work seems to reflect a some- 
what less developed state of learning. Thomas is later than 
Michael Scot whom he cites, while an allusion to Jacques de 
Vitry as the most recent of his authorities and as now bishop 
of Tusculum and a cardinal indicates that the work was 
finished between 1228 and 1244. On the whole Thomas and 
Bartholomew seem to have compiled their works independ- 
ently, employing different general plans, emphasizing rather 
different fields, and using somewhat different authorities. 
Possibly, therefore, the two works may have been com- 
pleted almost simultaneously, and one wonders whether they 
may not have represented rival ventures of the two friar 
orders. Bormans and Rose ^ after him have dwelt on the use 
made of Thomas's compilation by his fellow Dominicans, 
Vincent of Beauvais and Albertus Magnus, but I have little 
doubt that most of his sources were known to them directly. 
The De natura reruni remained long in use ; an official price 

Bclgique, XIX, 132-59, Brussels, posthumously without a projected 

1852. section on Thomas's natural 

Carus, Geschichte der Zoologie, science, which the author had 

Munich, 1872, pp. 211-33. scarcely begun. 

HL 30 (1888) 365-84, Delisle, Stadler, "Albertus Magnus, 

'La Nature des Choses, par Thomas von Cantimpre, und Vin- 

Thomas de Cantimpre," supple- cent von Beauvais," in Natur und 

menting and correcting the earlier Kultur, IV, 86-90, Munich, igo6. 

account by Daunou in HL 19 C. Ferckel, Die Gyn'dkologie 

(1838) 177-84, where the De na- des Thomas von Brabant, aus- 

tnra rerum had been called an gezvdhlte Kapitel aus Buck I de 

anonymous work known only naturis rerum becndet um 1240, 

from Vincent of Beauvais' cita- Munich, 1912 (in G. Klein, Alte 

tion of it. Meister d. Medizin u. Natur- 

A. Kaufmann, Thomas von kunde). 

Chantimpre, Cologne, 1899, 137 'V. Rose (1875), PP- 335. 340. 
pp., an unfinished work published 



was fixed for it at the University of Paris in the reign of 
Philip the Fair; ^ and the manuscripts of it are numerous 
and widespread, but as yet often unidentified because in the 
manuscripts themselves it is either anonymous or ascribed to 
Albertus Magnus." This attribution to Albert is found even 
in a manuscript of the thirteenth century, while "Albert iri 
the book De naturis rerum," is cited in the Thesaurus pau- 
perum ^ by Petrus Hispanus, a work written at some time 
before 1277 when its author died as Pope John XXI. But 
Thomas himself speaks in the Bonmn universale de apibus^ 
of the De natura rerum as an earlier work of his, which 
seems decisive, and he is also credited with the authorship 
of both these works in the fourteenth century Dominican 
bibliography. A critical edition of the De natura rerum 
would be a valuable contribution to the study of medieval 

I lie of The date of the birth of Thomas in Brabant has not 

been fixed but seems to lie between the years 1186 and 12 10 
and probably is close to the latter date. He attended the epis- 
copal school at Liege for eleven years and entered the Do- 
minican order in 1232. He states that he was in Paris in 
1238 when William of Auvergne as bishop of that city called 
a meeting of all the masters in the chapter house of the Friars 
Preachers to consider the abuse of plurality of benefices.^ 
In 1246 he became subprior and lector of the Dominicans at 
Louvain. Kaufmann placed the date of his death between 
1263 and 1293, but if the date 1276 mentioned in his Bonum 
universale de apibus is correct,'^ he was alive then. In that 
work he seems to refer to Aquinas and Albertus Magnus as 
both still living,'^ but the former had already completed his 

^HL3o: 380. "Ibid., II, 57, I'x. At I, 5, ". 

'Sometimes the work concludes 1252 is given as the date of the 

with the extraordinary Explicit, "recent" murder of a Dominican 

"the book of Lucius Annisius by heretics at Verona; at II, 57. 

Seneca of Cordova^ disciple of iii, great winds and thunders are 

Fortinus the Stoic, De naturis mentioned, which frightened men 

rerum!' as in Arundel 323. in Germany nearly out of their 

*III, 16. wits in 1256. 

* In the preface. ^Aquinas died in 1274, Albert 

^ Bonum universale de apibus, I, in 1280. 
19, vi'u 


studies with Albert and become a professor of theology him- 
self/ while Albert is spoken of as if an old man.^ Thomas 
says that he was an attendant upon his lectures "for a long 
while" when he occupied the chair of theology. It does not 
seem, however, that this passage implies any very close rela- 
tion of discipleship between Thomas and Albert. 

The De natiira rerum is professedly a handy compilation Character 
made from numerous other writings, as Thomas states both ^ ^^, 

° ' Ve naturr. 

in his preface and conclusion. Stimulated by the remark in rerum. 
Augustine's Christian Doctrine that it would be a splendid 
achievement if someone should collect in one volume data 
concerning the natures of things and especially of animals, 
Thomas has spared neither labor, solicitude, nor expense 
toward that end and has spent fourteen or fifteen years in 
collecting material "scattered widely over the world in the 
diverse writings" of many philosophers and authors. He has 
not been satisfied to pursue his investigations merely in Gaul 
and Germany, although books abound in those countries, but 
has gone beyond the sea and collected the books published 
in England on nature, and has made excerpts from all 
sources. He asks indulgence of his readers if he has omitted 
anything that should be included, reminding them how great 
a task it is for one man to read and digest all the varied and 
scattered works of the philosophers. Nevertheless he feels 
that "there will scarcely be found among the Latins so much 
and so varied material compressed into a single volume." ' 
Thomas does not directly state as his aim, although it is 
perhaps involved in his citation of Augustine, the elucida- 
tion of the properties of things mentioned in the Bible, as 
we shall find that Bartholomew of England does. But he 
expresses a hope that arguments for the Faith and illustra- 
tions serviceable in sermons may be derived from his work, 
and there are a number of little books in existence in manu- 

* Boniim universale de apibus, I, ' From this statement one might 
20, xi. infer either that Bartholomew's 

* Ibid., II, 57, li, "venerabilis book was not yet pubHshed or 
ille f rater ordinis predicatorum that Thomas did not know of it. 
magister Albertus." 



script which seem to be extracts from the works of Thomas 
or Bartholomew intended for pulpit use.^ Thomas will 
sometimes, moreover, like Alexander Neckam, explain the 
allegorical or moral significance of natural phenomena, "but 
not continually, because we have tried to avoid prolixity." 
As a matter of fact, it is rarely that he does so,- although the 
amount of allegory or moralizing varies somewhat in differ- 
ent manuscripts. These also differ as to the fulness of the 
text generally and there are numerous minor differences, 
certain passages being abbreviated or entirely omitted in 
some manuscripts. Copies have also been discovered of a 
second or revised edition in which a twentieth book has been 
added. ^ 
Plan and The manuscripts also differ in their arrangement of the 

work, but as Thomas supplies us with a table of contents, 
there can be no doubt as to the original and correct order. 
He begins with the parts of the human body, devoting a 
chapter to each member, its ills and their cure, and having 
considerable to say on the subject of obstetrics. His second 
book discusses the soul {anima). The brief third book 
treats of strange and monstrous races of men who are found 
chiefly in the orient but in some cases elsewhere, hermaphro- 
dites, for instance, in France. Then come successive books 
on quadrupeds, birds, marine monsters, fish, serpents, and 
worms. These six books devoted to animal life other than 
man occupy considerably more than half of the entire work. 
Thomas turns next to the vegetable kingdom, devoting two 
books to trees, of which the second deals with aromatic and 
medicinal trees, and one book to herbs. After the brief 
thirteenth book on fountains and other bodies of water he 
comes to (14) precious stones, (15) the seven metals, (16) 
the seven regions of air, (17) the sphere and planets, (18) 
meteorology, and finally to the universe and four elements. 

* HL 30 • 384. where, however, the three last 
"As HL 30:374-5 has already books are missing; Lincoln Col- 
noted, lege 57, 13th century; CU Trinity 

* HL 30:383 mentions three 1058, 13th century; Wolfenbiittel 
such MSS; see also CLM 6go8, 4499. 14th century. 



These two topics of his nineteenth book are usually discussed 
near the start of medieval scientific treatises, and the reason 
for the order adopted by Thomas is not very evident, unless 
perhaps he at first intended to write about animals alone and 
then added further books on other subjects, or unless he 
decided to begin with man the microcosm and end with the 
miindiis or macrocosm. If such was his plan, he does not 
seem to say so, and it is hardly surprising that liberties were 
taken with his order in some of the manuscripts, which begin 
with book sixteen and end with book fifteen, apparently in 
order to start with the heavens and elements and then con- 
sider the particular creatures of inferior creation. 

As the work of Thomas is professedly a compilation, it Chief au- 
is important to note his authorities. At the start he men- 
tions those to whom he is most indebted : first, Aristotle, 
and then Pliny. Third comes the De mirahilihiis (instead 
of memorabilihus) mundioi Solinus whom Thomas esteems 
both as a man of marvelous eloquence and as a diligent 
scrutinizer of the natures of things. Very different this from 
Albertus Magnus' sceptical estimate of Solinus as a philoso- 
pher who told many lies, and yet there are modern scholars 
who contend that Albert took much of his natural science 
ready-made and without acknowledgment from the De 
natiira rerum of his pupil ^ Thomas. It will be noted that 
Thomas names his chief authorities in chronological order. 
Fourth comes Ambrose, to whose eloquent description of 
birds and beasts in the Hexaemeron Thomas finds it neces- 
sary, however, to make additions; and fifth, Isidore. Sixth, 
and most recent in time, is the Oriental History of Jacques 
de Vitry to whom Thomas "was intimately devoted." ^ 
Jacques had occupied several chapters of his Oriental His- 
tory ^ with the fountains, trees and herbs, animals, serpents, 
birds, and rare fish, precious stones and strange races of the 

^ As has been said above, it is ' Jacobus de Vitriaco, libri duo 

doubtful if there was any close . . . prior Oricntalis . . . alter 

relation of master and disciple Occidentalis Historiae, 1597, Hist. 

between Albert and Thomas. Orient, caps. 85-92. 

'HL 30: 377- 



ment of 


orient, and had then added a briefer list to show that the 
west, too, was not without its marvels. Thomas also men- 
tions two anonymous works, which he appears to cite chiefly 
concerning animals ^ and whose titles he gives as Experi- 
mentator and Liber rerum. Thomas was probably correct 
in his surmise that Experimentator had been compiled in 
recent times and we shall meet citations of it in other authors 
of the thirteenth century. But the original texts of the Liher 
rerum and Experimentator do not seem to have survived. 

Thomas mentions yet other authorities in his preface 
and even more in the course of his work. His method in 
using his sources varies. Sometimes he combines in one 
paragraph brief statements from a number of authorities 
bearing on the same topic. Again he may insert prac- 
tically verbatim a long extract or complete treatment of a 
matter by some one author, or even an entire treatise such 
as the Letter of Alexander to Aristotle or Thetel's discus- 
sion of seals in stones. Thus in his first book on the human 
body he uses a work supposed to have been written by Cleo- 
patra to her daughter on the subject of gynecology, and 
inserts in condensed form John of Spain's translation from 
the Arabic of the medical portion of The Secret of Secrets 
supposed to have been written by Aristotle to Alexander. 
His second book on the soul follows Augustine's treatise 
De anima. His third book on strange and monstrous races 
of men includes also some account of the Gymnosophists 
and Brahmans and their verbal repartee or epistolary corre- 
spondence with Alexander of Macedon. 

With some of the authors whom he names Thomas was 
almost surely not directly acquainted. Dorotheus the 
Athenian, Menander, and Mago, for instance, he mentions 
as "authorities according to Pliny." He does not seem to 
make as much use of Galen as might be expected, were that 
author's works already accessible in Latin translation ; but 
he probably had the old Latin version of Alexander Tralles, 

^Experimentator, however, is also cited concerning the proper- 
ties of air. 


to whom he probably refers as "Alexander medicus." He 
probably also had seen Basil's Hexaemeron in Latin trans- 
lation, since he cites it as well as Ambrose a number of 
times, and also in the preface to his Bommi universale de 
apibus lists "the great Basil" together with Aristotle, Solinus, 
Pliny, Ambrose, and Jacques de Vitry as his authorities in 
the discussion of bees in the De natura rermn. Many other 
wTiters he has without much doubt read for himself : 
Boethius, Martianus Capella, and Rabanus of earlier medie- 
val Latin writers; Platearius and Constantinus Africanus 
in medicine ; Aldhelme ^ and Physiologus on animals ; of 
the Arabs Alfraganus, Albumasar, and perhaps Averroes. 
Michael Scot seems to be cited in some manuscripts and 
not in others.^ In treating of stones Thomas does not cite 
Marbod by name but states that he is using the metrical 
version of the account which Evax, king of Arabia, is said 
to have written for the emperor Nero. Thomas, however, 
adds statements from other authors on stones. Like Alex- 
ander Neckam Thomas seems to use the Natural Questions 
of Adelard of Bath without acknowledgment. In discussing 
herbs he asks the three opening questions of Adelard's 
treatise and proceeds to solve them in words which are often 
identical. After this general introduction his chapters on 
particular herbs are almost invariably introduced by the 
formula, "As Platearius says." Ferckel has pointed out 
that the greater part of three chapters in his first book on 
human anatomy is drawn from the Philosophia of William 
of Conches,^ and that the twentieth book, added in some 

* Thomas's extracts from Ad- Litteraire, however, gives a cita- 

helmus were printed by Pitra tion of Michael's translation of 

(1855) III, 425-7. Concerning Aristotle's History of Animals 

St. Aldhelm see above, chapter 27, from three Paris MSS. 

page 636. * Ferckel (1912), p. 4, "und 

' Michael Scot is cited concern- tatsachlich ist fast das ganze 

ing silk-worms and gourds in Kapitel De Imprcgnatione ein Teil 

Egerton 1984, fols. loor and I2ir, des folgenden und die erste 

and, judging from the catalogue grossere Halfte des Kapitels 7i 

notice, also in Corpus Christi 221, fast wortlich der Philosophia des 

but not in the corresponding Wilhelm von Conches entnom- 

passages in either Royal 12-E- men." 
XVII or 12-F-VI. The Histoire 


manuscripts, is taken from the same work. Thus Thomas 
makes much use of comparatively recent authorities. He 
also tells us that he has not disdained to include some popu- 
lar beliefs. 
Credulous Thomas of Cantimpre must be reckoned as one of the 

* ' " ^' most credulous of our authors. In his books on animals he 
seems of the uncritical school of the marvelous of Solinus, 
Basil, Ambrose, the Physiologus, and Jacques de Vitry. 
Seldom does he question any statement that he finds in 
his authorities ; indeed, he does not appear to possess the in- 
dependent knowledge of animal life to enable him to do 
so. He does state that the power of the little echinus to 
stop ships has seemed incredible to many, but inasmuch as 
Ambrose, Jacques, Aristotle, Isidore, and Basil all assert it 
confidently, he does not see how there is any room left for 
doubt.^ The story of the beaver's self-castration in order 
to escape its hunters is given without comment, and we 
are further told that the animal cannot live unless it keeps 
its tail in the water. ^ Thomas tells us that Isidore held that 
the Sirens were really harlots who enticed men to moral 
ruin, but he adds that the more general opinion is that they 
are irrational marine monsters who still exist and he cites 
"those who testify that they have seen the Sirens them- 
selves." Their song is more like that of birds than it is 
like articulate speech. Sometimes, on the other hand, 
Thomas prefers a miraculous or supernatural to a natural 
explanation of a marvelous statement. He is not sure 
whether the onocentaur seen by St. Anthony in the desert 
was real or a deception of the devil, and he regards as not 
natural but a divine miracle the story that the Apostle Peter 
had shut up in a mountain near Rome a dragon which will 
live until the end of the world. He adds, however, the 
tale of the two dragons found alive under the tower from 
the History of the Britons. About all that can be said for 

' "Tanta fides in hoc auctorum ' In the condensed version of 

est et tanta concordia ut nulli Egerton 1984 and Arundel 323 the 

umquam de hoc dubitare relinqua- castration story is omitted, but 

tur." the other statement is made. 


Thomas on this score is that he does not appear to add many 

new marvels of his own to the incredible assertions of past 


Thomas's credulity seems to have increased with age^ Very 

since his later Bonum universale de apibus,^ in which bees character 

are a mere starting point for a disquisition on the qualities 9/ ^^e 

. Bonum 
which bishops and other clergy should possess and the in- universale 

troduction of innumerable anecdotes, is a tissue of monkish °^°P^^"^- 
tales and gossip, instances of special providence, apparitions 
of the dead and of demons, and other miracles and morali- 
ties, most of which are supposed to have occurred in 
Thomas's own time and are recounted upon hearsay. Thus 
we read of a son who did not adequately support his aged 
father and was punished by a toad leaping onto his face and 
taking such a hold that it could not be removed but re- 
mained as a disfiguring growth. As a penance the son was 
sent by his bishop through the diocese as an example and 
warning to others. Or Thomas assures us that Albertus 
Magnus told him that at Paris the demon appeared to him 
in the form of a fellow friar in an effort to call him away 
from his studies, but departed by virtue of the sign of 
the cross. In short, the work is on the same order as the 
Dialogues of Gregory the Great. 

Thomas's treatment of animals in general and quad- A chapter 
rupeds in particular can perhaps best be illustrated by a Uon. 
paraphrase of some one chapter entire, for which purpose I 
have selected that on the lion. It will be noted that there 
is no apparent logic in the order of the statements which 
I have had to divide into paragraphs rather arbitrarily. It 
has seemed fairer, however, to reproduce the order un- 
changed than to bring together scattered statements bearing 
on the same point. Many of Thomas's statements are found 
also in Aristotle's History of Animals,^ although Thomas's 

^ A fuller form of the title is : latis et subditis ubique sparsim 

Liber apuvi aut de apibus mysticis exemplis notabilibus. 

sive de proprietatibus apum sen ' See especially Hlstoria ani- 

universale bonum tractans de pre- maliutn, VI, 31 ; VIII, 5, IX, 44. 



kinds of 
lions : 
their gen- 

tion and 

citations would indicate that some items, at least, were de- 
rived by him from that source only indirectly. 

The lion, as Jacques and Solinus state, is called the king 
of animals. There are three kinds of lions. Many are short 
and have curly manes but are weak and cowardly. Those 
generated by pards are ignoble and degenerate and have 
no manes. The larger ones with ordinary manes are noble 
and keen and without guile or suspicion. The lion's brow 
and tail reveal his intentions. His virtue resides in his 
breast and forefoot and tail.^ And he is stout-hearted.^ 
He is so hot of nature that he is said to have sexual inter- 
course at all times. ^ The lioness bears first five, then four, 
then three, then two cubs, then only one, after which she 
becomes sterile.^ Aristotle accounts for this by the great 
heat attending the generation of lions who have solider and 
stronger bodies for their size than other animals. The 
lioness has only two tits and not corresponding in size to 
her body. This is not because she has so few cubs but be- 
cause she eats only flesh which does not readily turn into 

Solinus says that the lion is not easily enraged, but 
when anyone does provoke him he shows no mercy to his 
adversary. On the other hand, he spares the prostrate cap- 
tive and allows those whom he meets by chance to proceed 
on their way.^ He is fiercer to men than to women, and to 
women who have had intercourse with men than to virgins 
and children. Adelinus says that he sleeps with his eyes 
open. Pliny says that as he walks he obliterates his tracks 
with his tail in order to foil his hunters. Lions do not fight 

* In Egerton 1984 and Arundel 
323 this statement occurs later and 
is ascribed to "Alexander'". These 
MSS add that in its fore-quarters 
the lion is of a hot nature, in the 
hind-quarters cold, like the Sun 
in Leo. 

' "Firmitas autem in pectore 

' Egerton 1984, "to be feverish 
all the time." 

* KB, nth edition, "The number 
of cubs at a birth is from two 
to four, usually three." 

° Ibid. "The lion . . . seldom at- 
tacks his prey openly, unless com- 
pelled by extreme hunger. . . . 
He appears ... as a general rule 
only to kill when hungry or at- 
tacked, and not for the mere 
pleasure of killing, as with some 
other carnivorous animals." 




among themselves.^ Solinus ^ says that if hunted in the 
open, the Hon will wait for the dogs and dissimulate his 
fear, but in the woods, where no one can see his cowardice, 
will take to his heels. When pursuing his prey he leaps into 
the air in order to see farther, but not when he is fleeing. 
Aristotle states that the lion and Arabian camel are the only 
quadrupeds to move the right foot first. In making water 
the lion lifts his foot like a dog. When the lion opens his 
mouth a strong odor exudes. "The lion, very swift by forti- 
tude, is somewhat heavy of nature because of its slow di- 
gestion." When running, it cannot come to a stop the in- 
stant it wishes. 

When about to drink, the lion draws a wide circle with 
its tail and roars so that the other animals dare not cross 
this line.^ Ambrose tells a marvel to the effect that many 
animals which are swift enough to evade the lion's onset are 
paralyzed by the sound of its roar. As king of beasts the 
lion scorns the society of the other animals and will not 
touch meat which is a day old.^ But it fears a scorpion. 
According to the Liber rerum, some say that the lion is con- 
sumed internally by its own fury and fiery blood, even when 
it does not have the appearance of being angry. Solinus 
says that a lion in captivity fears the sound of wheels but 
dreads a fire still more. Jacques says that it is also afraid 
of a white cock. Pliny says that a captive lion can be tamed 
by seeing its cub whipped or by watching a dog obey a man. 

Lions are never found overladen with fat. They take 
food or drink on alternate days, and fast if their digestion 
fails to operate. If they devour too much flesh, they put 
their claws into their mouths and extract it. The lion has 

Fear in- 
spired and 
felt by 

diet, medi- 
cine, and 
mode of 

^ EB, "Though not strictly gre- 
garious, lions appear to be so- 
ciable towards their own species." 

*Also Aristotle, IX, 44. 

^EB, nth edition, "On no occa- 
sions are their voices to be heard 
in such perfection, or so intensely 
powerful, as when two or three 
troops of strange lions approach 
a fountain to drink at the same 


* Ibid. "He, moreover, by no 
means limits himself to animals 
of his own killing, but, accord- 
ing to Selous, often prefers eating 
game that has been killed by man, 
even when not very fresh, to tak- 
ing the trouble to catch an animal 



of the 

a natural enmity for the wild ass. A sick lion eats an ape, 
as Ambrose says, or drains a dog's blood. Pliny tells of a 
Syracusan whom a lion persistently followed until he ex- 
tracted a splinter from its foot. Another lion insisted on 
having a bone removed from its teeth. Some manuscripts * 
here insert from Pliny and Solinus the tale of the wiles of 
the lioness to conceal her amours with the pard, and the 
assertion that a lion wags its tail only when in good humor. 
When a lion begins to move it beats the ground with its 
tail but as it increases its speed lashes its back. When 
wounded it always takes note of the man who inflicted the 
wound and goes for him. If a man has hurled missiles at 
it but failed to hit it, the lion merely knocks him down. 
Philosopher says that when fighting for its cubs the lion 
keeps its gaze fixed on the ground so as not to be terrified 
by the spears of the hunters. 

Pliny recommends eating the flesh and heart of a lion 
to persons afflicted with colds. The lion's bones are so hard 
that they strike fire like flint. The hollow in its bones is 
very small and rarely contains any marrow, and then only 
in the hip bones, as Experimenter - says. Lion's fat is an 
antidote for poisons, and a man anointed with it and wine 
puts to flight all beasts and snakes. It is hotter than the fat 
of any other quadruped. The lion is almost always feverish, 
and that with quartan fever. The eflfect of its roar upon 
other beasts is again mentioned. When crossing hard or 
stony ground the lion spares its claws since they are its 
weapons. Pliny asserts that lion fat with oil of roses keeps 
the face white and free from blotches. The neck bone of 
the lion is continuous and the flesh there cartilaginous like 
a muscle, so that it cannot turn its neck, a disability which 
some, the Liber rerum states, ascribe incorrectly to indigna- 
tion or stolidity on the lion's part. Aristotle says that the 

* For instance, I found the 
passage in Royal 12-E-XVII, but 
not in Royal 12-F-VI. 

'Aristotle, instead of Experi- 
mentator, in E^erton 1984 an'' 

Arundel 323. Of the small 
amount of marrow in lions' bones 
Aristotle treats twice, Historic 
animalium III, 7 and 20. 




internal organs and teeth of a lion are like those of a 

After this account in the De natura rerum the article on 
the lion in the latest edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica 
will be found rather dull reading and scanty as concerns the 
behavior of lions as well as the medicinal properties of their 
carcasses. Almost all of antiquity's interesting assertions 
concerning lions are omitted, no doubt as false, but little 
of interest is supplied in their place. We are told a num- 
ber of things that the lion will not do: he will not climb, 
he will not take more than three bounds after his prey. But 
even Thomas does not say that a lion ever climbs; the 
notion does not seem even to have occurred to him.^ Nor 
does Thomas assert that all lions are brave or noble or 
magnanimous. On the whole, the lion does not seem a sub- 
ject upon which modern science has added vastly to our 
knowledge. There were far more lions in existence in 
antiquity, and men were more interested in them then, and 
thought at least that they knew more about them. 

Some notion of the work ascribed by Thomas to Ex per i- 
mentator may be gained from Thomas's citations of it in his 
chapter on the wolf. Experimenter explains the fact stated 
by Ambrose, that a man who is seen first by a wolf cannot 
speak, by arguing that the rays from the wolf's eyes dry up 
the spiritiis of human vision which in its turn dries up the 
human spiritus generally. Thereby the wind-pipes are dried 
up and in consequence the throat so that man cannot speak. 
Experimenter states further that the wolf collects willow 
leaves in his mouth and makes a pile of them under which he 
hides in order to catch goats. And when walking over dry 
leaves he licks his paws so that the dogs will not hear him. 
An insulting reflection upon the canine sense of smell ! 

We will pass over Thomas's books on birds, marine 
monsters, fish, and serpents, except to note in passing that 
Delisle credited him with supplying some new information 

and mod- 
ern ency- 

of the 
of the _ 

and toads. 

^ I am told, however, that in a recent moving picture lions are seen 
climbing trees to escape from dogs. 




ment in 

concerning the medieval herring fisheries/ and come to 
his separate treatment of "worms." Those with only two 
or four feet have a little blood, but those with more feet 
than four are bloodless, because the blood is exhausted in 
providing nutrition for so many feet and because the motion 
of so many feet annihilates the blood. Many worms begin 
and end their life in the course of a summer, since they are 
born rather from corruption than from seed. Earthworms 
in particular are generated from pure and unadulterated 
earth with no admixture of semen, and so furnish illustra- 
tion and proof of the virgin birth of Christ. In the opinion 
of the Liber rerum the toad is a worm. It is venomous 
and has a pestilential glance. It feeds on earth, eating as 
much as it can clutch in its forefoot, in which it is em- 
blematic of avarice and cupidity. In Gaul there are big 
toads or frogs with a voice like a horn, but they lose their 
voice if taken outside of that country, typifying clergymen 
who like Jonah will not preach outside of their own land. 
Some manuscripts add from "Alexander" - that toads are 
fond of the plant salvia and that it is sometimes poisoned 
by contact with them. Hence it is advised to touch a patch 
of salvia with rue, the dew from which is deadly to toads. 
A stone found in the head of a toad, if worn by a man, is 
an amulet against poison. Several toads can be generated 
from the ashes of a toad. 

In planning to build a temple of fine marbles Solomon 
found embarrassing the prohibition in the Mosaic law for- 
bidding one to cut stones for the altar of the Lord with iron. 
But then he sought by an experiment in worms what the art 
of man knew not. He shut up the fledglings of an ostrich 
in a glass vase, so that the mother bird could see them but 
could not get at them to feed them. The ostrich thereupon 
flew (?) off to the desert and came back with a worm. It 
then broke the glass vase by smearing it with the blood of 
this worm. Solomon found this worm, called Thaniur 

* HL 30 : 367- 

' Egerton 1984 and Arundel 323. 




or the worm of Solomon, equally efficacious in cutting 

In speaking of trees most manuscripts ^ tell of an oak 
under which Abraham dwelt and which lasted until Con- 
stantine's time. The trees in the Garden oi Eden or terres- 
trial paradise are also discussed, though of course no longer 
accessible. Josephus is cited concerning trees near the Red 
Sea and apples of Sodom. Thomas thinks that the Sun- 
tree and Moon-tree mentioned in Alexander's letter to Aris- 
totle had been referred to much earlier in the benediction 
of Joseph in Deuteronomy. As for the responses which 
these trees are said to have given Alexander, Thomas has 
little doubt that this was the work of demons, although some 
contend that it was done by divine permission through 
ministering angels. 

Like Marbod, Thomas points out that, while plants and 
fruits receive their virtues "through the medium of the 
operations of nature," no excess of cold or heat can be 
observed in stones to account for their miraculous powers, 
such as conferring invisibility, and that consequently their 
virtues must come direct from God. He alludes to the 
belief that Solomon imprisoned demons beneath the gems 
in rings, and cites the fifteenth book of The City of God 
for the statement that demons are attracted by various 
stones, herbs, woods, animals, and incantations. 

While Thomas's exposition of the virtues of gems is 
largely based upon Marbod, in discussing adamas or ada- 
mant he introduces a description of the mariner's compass, 
concerning which Marbod is silent and which had probably 
not been invented or introduced in western Europe that 
early, although Neckam of course alludes to it before 
Thomas. After speaking of a variety of adamant which 
can be broken without resort to goat's blood but which 
will attract iron even away from the magnet, Thomas adds 
that it also betrays the location of the star of the sea which 
is called Maria. When sailors cannot direct their course to 

* Omitted in the two MSS mentioned in the preceding note. 


of stones. 

An ada- 


port amid obscure mists, they take a needle and, after rub- 
bing its point on adamant, fasten it transversely on a small 
stick or straw and place it in a vessel full of water. Then 
by carrying some adamant around the vessel they start the 
needle rotating. Then the stone is suddenly withdrawn and 
presently the point of the needle comes to rest pointing 
towards the star in question.^ 
The Having concluded this description of a mariner's com- 

comoTss^ pass, Thomas again follows the poem of Marbod and goes 
and magic, on to say that the adamant is also said to be potent in magic 
arts, to make its bearer brave against the enemy, to repel 
vain dreams and poison, and to benefit lunatics and 
demoniacs. I mention this accidental juxtaposition of the 
mariner's compass and magic because, as we shall find in 
the case of Roger Bacon, it has often been stated that those 
in possession of the secret of the mariner's compass were 
long afraid to reveal it for fear of being suspected of magic, 
or that sailors were at first afraid to employ the new device 
for the same reason. This passage in the De natiira reriim 
is as far as I know the only one in the sources that might 
even seem to suggest such a connection, but Thomas does 
not really connect the compass and magic at all. Later in 
the same book, in discussing the magnet, he says nothing 
of the compass, although repeating the usual statements 
that the magnet attracts iron, is used in magic, and has 
the occult property of revealing an unchaste wife. 
Occult After completing his account of the occult virtues of 

sculptured ^^^""5 in their natural state, Thomas goes on to discuss the 
gems. sculpture of gems and the additional virtues which they 

thereby acquire, a subject on which Marbod had not touched. 
Thomas had already announced at the beginning of his 
book on stones:^ "Moreover, at the close of this book we 
have given certain opinions of the ancients which we think 

* Compare the similar descrip- quotes a somewhat similar passage 

tion of the magnetised needle in which occurs later on. In fact, 

Neckam, De naturis rerum, II, Thomas makes practically the 

98 (RS 34: 183). same statement at least three 

' HL 30:370 does not mention times in the course of his four- 

this introductory passage but teenth book. 




are neither to be credited in every respect nor denied in 
every respect, and in this we follow the glorious Augus- 
tine. The children of Israel are said to have carved certain 
gems in the desert, especially carnelians, and their work of 
sculpture is said to have been of such subtle skill that no 
one since has ever dared attempt an imitation of it. And 
there is no doubt but that figures and images of figures are 
engraved according to the efficacies of the virtues of gems." 
Thomas also admits that the Israelites should have been 
adepts in such work, when he recalls the divine direction 
which they received in the case of the twelve gems in the 
breast-plate of the high priest. "Therefore it is evident 
that sculptures are not found on gems without good reason. 
On the other hand, I would not say that every such engrav- 
ing is a token of mystic virtue." Later, when he comes to 
"the relations of the ancient sculptors concerning the en- 
graving of gems," Thomas warns that, although the form 
of stones is to be honored for its virtue, "yet hope is not 
to be put in them but, according to what is written, in God 
alone from whom is derived the virtue of stones and the 
dignity of every creature." The astrological character of 
such engraved images is made manifest by the connection 
of many of them with the signs of the zodiac. 

Thomas complains that the ancient authorities for such Thetelon 
images and their virtues are often not cited, but he had found stones, 
a treatise in which the images which the children of Israel 
were supposed to have engraved in the desert were recorded 
by a Jewish philosopher named Thetel or Techel.^ Of this 
treatise Thomas makes a Latin translation for his readers, 
cautioning them, however, that Thetel's opinions "are not 
to be trusted on every point." Thetel's treatise, at least as 
it is reproduced by Thomas who, however, has perhaps al- 
ready used parts of it in his preceding discussion, begins 
with the sentence : "When a jasper is found and on it a 
man with a shield about his neck or in his hand and a serpent 

^"Rechcl" in Royal 12-F-VI, veterum Judaeorum Physiolo- 
fols. 106-7. Printed by Pitra gorum de lapidibus sententiae." 
(185s) III, 335-7, as "Cethel aut 


beneath his feet, this has virtue against all enemies." It 
ends with the sentence : "When there is found on a stone 
a foaming horse and above a man holding a scepter in his 
hand, this is good for those who have power over men." 
These sentences perhaps sufficiently suggest the character 
of the work. It is also found separately in the manuscripts 
as early as the twelfth century.^ Some of these vary con- 
siderably from the text as given by Thomas. The popu- 
larity of the treatise is also attested by the allusions in its 
prefaces to spurious imitations of it. 
Zahelor This Thetel, Techel, or Celiel, with his seals of the 

Is^raelite children of Israel, is presumably no other than Zethel or 
Zachel or Zahel or Zael, the Israelite or Ismaelite," some 
of whose astrological treatises appeared in early printed 
editions,^ and several of whose works are listed by Albertus 
Magnus in the Speculum astronomiae.* This Sahl ben Bisr 
ben Habib lived until 823 with the governor of Chorasan 
and then became the astrologer of El-Hasan, vizier to the 
Caliph al-Mamun. He was highly esteemed by the Byzan- 
tines, who called him Sex^X or tov <TO<j)(j}TaTou 'lovdaiov tov 
2dxX TOV viov TOV Ukap.^ The translation of his works into 
Latin seems to have begun at an early date, as his Fatidica 
or Decrees of Fate was translated in 1138 by Hermann of 
Dalmatia,^ while our treatise on seals appears in a twelfth 
century manuscript. 

^A further discussion of them Elections as printed in 1551, but 

will be found in Appendix II to also notes a 1533 edition of it and 

this chapter. 1493 and 1519 editions of all these 

* Steinschneider (1906) 54-5, treatises. 

103-4, fails to include our treatise * In cap. 6, hitroductio, "Scito 

on seals in his mentions of Zael's quod signa sunt duodecim" ; in 

works; but in BN 16204, 13th cen- cap. 9, Judicia Arabian, "Cum 

tury, the Seals of Theel is im- interrogatus fueris" ; De signifi- 

mediately preceded by two trea- catione tcmporis, "Et scito quod 

tises of "Zehel the Israelite" on tempore excitat motus" ; in cap. 

interrogations and elections. 10, Liber clectionis, "Omnes con- 

*In the astrological miscellany cordati sunt"; Quinqtiaginta prae- 

of Petrus Liechtenstein, Basel, ccptorum, "Scito quod significata 

1551, fols. 122-7, Introductorium lunae." 

de principiis judiciorum; 127-38, " CCAG V, 3, 98-106. 

De intcrrogationibus; 138-41, De ' Steinschneider (1905), p. 34, 

electionibus; 141-2, De signiHca- names Hermann the Dalmatian 

tione temp oris ad judicia. Stein- as translator and notes CUL 2022, 

Schneider mentions only the 15th century, fols. I02r-iisv, Her- 


Thomas terminates his book on stones by instructions, Consecra- 

quite in the tone of the blessed Hildegard, concerning the 
blessing of gems. As a result of Adam's fall every creature 
was corrupted and lost some of its original virtue, and even 
such virtues as are left to gems are often further corrupted 
by the touch of impious and impure men. Hence, just as 
sinful men are renovated by baptism and penance, so gems 
can have some of their lost virtues restored by a ceremony 
of consecration and sanctification. They should be wrapped 
in linen, placed on the altar, and the priest, after saying 
mass and while still wearing his sacred robes, should ofifer 
this prayer : 

"God, almighty Father, who showed Thy virtue to all 
through certain insensible creatures, who bade Thy servant 
Moses adorn himself among other holy vestments with 
twelve precious stones as a token of judgment, and also 
showed the Evangelist John the heavenly city of Jerusalem 
eternally constructed of the virtues which these same stones 
typify, we humbly beseech Thy Majesty to deign to conse- 
crate and sanctify these stones by the sanctification and in- 
vocation of Thy Name, that they may be sanctified and 
consecrated, and may recover the efficacious virtues with 
which the experience of wise men proves Thee to have en- 
dowed them, so that whatever persons may wear them, may 
feel Thy virtue present through them and may deserve to 
receive the gifts of Thy grace and the protection of Thy 
virtue, through Jesus, Thy Son, in whom all sanctification 

manni secundi translatio. "Ex- Schneider does not mention are : 

piicit Fatidica Ben Bixir Cal- Harleian 80; Sloane 2030, i2-i3th 

dei . . .," but the Gi in the Ex- century, fols. 41-76; Amplon. 

piicit of the following MS might Quarto 361, 14th century, fols. 

stand for Gerardi and indicate 96-113, Chehelbenbis Israelite; 

Gerard of Cremona, who would, and perhaps Sloane 3847. I7th 

it is true, have been but twenty- century, fols. 101-12, Zebel alias 

four in 1138: Digby 114, 14th cen- Zoel, liber imaginum, but more 

tury, fols. 176-99, "Explicit feti- probably this is the Pseudo-Zebel 

dica Zael Banbinxeir Caldei. found in Berlin 965, i6th century, 

Translacio hec mam. Gi. astro- fols. 1-63, and printed at Prague, 

nomie libri anno Domini 1138^ 3 1592, "Incipit zebelis sapientis ara- 

kal. Octobris translatus {sic) bum de interpretatione diversorum 

est." eventuum secundum lunam in 12 

Some other MSS which Stein- signis zodiaci." 

tion ot 



The seven 
metals : 

The seven 
of the air. 

consists, who lives with Thee, and reigns as God through 
infinite successions of cycles." ^ 

In his book on the seven metals, namely, gold, electrum, 
silver, copper, lead, tin, and iron, Thomas alludes to trans- 
mutation in speaking of copper and cites a work of alchemy 
ascribed to Aristotle, The Light of Lights (De lumine lumi- 
num) , for the assertion that the best gold is that made from 
a boy's urine and brass. This statement is to be understood, 
however, only of the color of the gold and not of the sub- 
stance. In his discussion of lead, tin, and iron Thomas cites 
no authorities except that once he remarks, "as the philoso- 
pher says." ^ Perhaps therefore we have here what is 
largely a contribution of his own. At any rate it seems to 
include the first mention of the invention of modern plumb- 
ing.^ Tin, Thomas tells us, rusts out easily if it lies long 
in water. Therefore the underground pipes of aqueducts 
have long been made of lead, but they used to be joined 
with tin, but in "modern times" human art has thought out 
a method of uniting them with hot molten lead. For while 
tin will not remain solid for long, "lead lasts forever under- 
ground." Thomas goes on to say that lead has the peculiar 
property among the metals of always increasing in size. 
Like Hildegard, he also mentions steel, which he says is 
hardened by many tensions so that it surpasses iron in virtue. 
He further tells of an oriental iron * which is very good for 
cutting and is fusible like copper or silver but not ductile 
like the iron in other parts of the world. 

The discussion in the De natura rerum of the seven 
regions of the air and their humors, namely, dew, snow, 
hail, rain, "laudanum," manna and honey, reminds one of 
Michael Scot's treatment of the same subject,^ but seems to 

"sicut dicunt 

* This consecration of gems also 
follows Techel's treatise on seals 
in Ashmole 1471, fol. 67V, while 
in Canon. Misc. 285 the work of 
Thetel is preceded at fol. 36V by 
De consecratione lapiduni, and at 
fol. 38 by De inodo praecipuos 
quosdam lapides consecrandi. 

'Or, in one MS, 

• This fact has already been 
noted by the HL. 

^Called andena in one MS, and 
alidca in another. 

" See above, chapter 51, page 324. 


be drawn from a common source rather than directly copied 
from it. Thomas states that Aristotle has treated more 
fully of these humors in his Meteorology, but in reality 
Aristotle says nothing of the last three named in the Meteor- 
ology, although in the History of Animals he says that honey 
is distilled from the air by the stars. Thomas draws the 
same distinction as Michael Scot had made between natural 
honey and the artificial sort made by bees. He is willing 
to grant that the manna upon which the children of Israel 
lived was created in this region of the sky, although espe- 
cially prepared for them by a divine miracle. 

The astrological passages of the De natura rerum are Astro- 
neither striking nor novel. In his books on animals Thomas 
had stated that various animal substances such as the brains 
of wolves or the livers of mice vary in size with the waxing 
and waning of the moon. He denies that the planets 
possess sense or that their movements are voluntary, but 
he quotes Pliny's statement that by the influence of Venus 
all things on earth are generated, and states the influence of 
each planet when it is in the ascendant. Under Mars men 
become choleric and bellicose. Jupiter is such a source of 
safety and good health that Martianus declared that were 
Jupiter the only planet, men would be immortal. Such, how- 
ever, was not the Creator's will. The word "J^pi^^r" ^^ "^^ 
without reason derived from iiihens and pater, since during 
the ascension of this planet all terrestrial things are born. 
For unless seeds were severed from their beginnings by 
some occult virtue, they would always remain immovable in 
the state in which they were created. God accordingly put 
such power in the spheres of the stars and especially the 
planets that created things might obey his command to in- 
crease and multiply. They return, however, to the earth 
from which they came; the processes of nature are unceas- 
ingly repeated; and, as Solomon said, there is nothing new 
under the sun. Thomas therefore reaches the usual con- 
clusion that except for human free will and special mani- 
festations of divine w^ill, all nature is placed by God under 




works in- 
to Thomas 
of Can- 


the rule of the stars. The influence of sun and moon is 
manifest, and "why should we not with entire reason be- 
lieve the same of the other planets?" 

The nineteenth book opens with a discussion of the 
universe and creation and closes with a discussion of the 
four elements. Fire has eight effects expressed in the 
couplet : 

Destruit, emollit, restringit, consolidatque ; 
Clarificat, terret, accendit, letificafquc. 

Thomas illustrates each of these effects by a verse of Scrip- 
ture. Fire also has six properties, likewise expressed in a 
couplet : 

Mobilis et siccus mundusque favilla tenetur; 
Crescit et accendit ^ sed aqua modica removetur. 

Concerning these properties also Thomas quotes Scripture. 
He then treats briefly of that purest fire which is above the 
seven regions of the air. Demons dwell in the air "await- 
ing with torments the judgment day." ^ When they appear 
to men, they assume bodies from that part of the air which 
is densest and most mixed with the other three elements. 
But angels coming as messengers to mankind assume bodies 
in the region of pure fire extending from the sphere of the 
moon to the firmament. 

In the life of Albertus Magnus written by Peter of Prus- 
sia toward the end of the fifteenth century ^ it is stated on 
the authority of the chronicle of Brother Jacobus de Zuzato, 
master of theology, that Thomas of Cantimpre translated 
word for word from Greek into Latin "all the books of 
Aristotle in rational, natural, and moral philosophy and 
metaphysics which we now use in the schools,^ and this at 
the instance of Saint Thomas of Aquinas, for in Albert's 

* Or perhaps "ascendit." 

' Compare Bede, De natxira 
rerum, cap. 25. 

' Petrus de Prussia, Vita B. 
Alberti Magni, (1621), p. 294. 

* Trithemius, Dc script, cedes 

probably has Peter and Jacobus 
in mind when he states that some 
writers say that Thomas of Can- 
timpre knew Greek and translated 
the works of Aristotle used in the 


time all commonly used the old translation." ^ The task of 
translating Aristotle was scarcely one for which Thomas 
of Cantimpre was qualified, and his name almost never ap- 
pears in the extant manuscripts of translations of Aristotle." 
Peter of Prussia and his source have probably confused 
William of Moerbeke with Thomas of Cantimpre, as they 
both came from Brabant, and their names are juxtaposed in 
a fourteenth century list of writings by Dominicans, where, 
however, William is said to have "translated all the books of 
natural and moral philosophy from Greek into Latin at the 
instance of brother Thomas." ^ Because of Thomas of 
Cantimpre's chapters on gynecology, the De secretis 
mulierum usually ascribed to Albertus Magnus has some- 
times been attributed to him, but Ferckel denies this.^ 

^As Albert lived six years be- tiqua translatio of the fourteen 

yond Aquinas, this would indi- books of Metaphysics to him, but 

cate that his Aristotelian trea- is the only such MS I know of. 

tises were completed early in life. ' One wonders if this can mean 

Yet some accuse him of using Thomas Brabantinus, whose name 

Thomas's De natura rerum in immediately follows that of IVil- 

these works. helmus Brabantinus in the list, 

* Additional 17345, late 13th cen- rather than Thomas Aquinas, 

tury, imperfect, ascribes the an- * Ferckel (1912), pp. 1-2, 10. 



Of the half dozen or so MSS which I have examined Egerton 
1984, 13th century, fols. 34-145, and Arundel 323, 13th century, 
fols. 1-98, present a different version from the others, arranged in 
a different order and somewhat more condensed, although some- 
times inserting points omitted in the other MSS, as has already 
been illustrated in the text in the reproduction of the chapter on 
the lion. These two MSS open with what is usually the i6th book 
on the seven regions of the air and continue with the subjects of 
the heavens and elements to which books 17-19 are usually devoted. 
Then, omitting the themes of the usual first three books, they con- 
sider quadrupeds (Egerton 1984, fol. 51V; Arundel 323, fol. 33r), 
other animals, and herbs. Then follow precious stones and metals, 
after instead of before which comes a truncated version of the 
book on fountains (Egerton 1984, fol. 142V; Arundel 323, fol. 
9ir). Next comes a treatment of parts of the human body which 
roughly answers to Thomas's first book but omits entirely the 
chapters dealing with generation and obstetrics. Indeed in Eger- 
ton 1984 the text breakc off at fol. 145V in the midst of the chapter 
on teeth and in the middle of a word, and then ends on the upper 
part of fol. I46r with the closing portion of the chapter De anchis 
and the chapter on Spondilia. Arundel 323 continues as far as the 
44th chapter on the spleen. It then at fol. 98r introduces a brief 
discussion of geography {Incipiunt Divisiones Provinciarum) , at 
the close of which we read, "Explicit liber lucii annisii Senece 
Cordubensis fortini stoyci discipuli De naturis rerum." The text, 
however, goes on to fol. 103V with a discussion of diseases, rem- 
edies, and astrological medicine. Neither this nor the list of prov- 
inces forms a part of the De natura rerum as contained in Royal 
12-E-XVII and 12-F-VI. 

As the Hist aire Litter aire de la France listed only MSS of the 
De natura rerum at Paris and in a few other continental libraries, 
and as the authorship of Thomas of Cantimpre is seldom recog- 
nized in the MSS catalogues, I append a list of MSS in British 
and continental libraries which are not noted in ^he Histoire Lit- 



tcraire. No doubt the list is still very incomplete. C. Ferckel 
(1912), pp. 11-18 gives a fuller list than that in the Histoire Lit- 
teraire, but only those MSS which are marked with an asterisk in 
the following list have been noted by Ferckel: 

British Museum 

Egerton 1984, 13th century, described above. 

Royal 12-E-XVII, 13th century. 

Royal 12-F-VI, 14th century, fols. 3-1 19. 

*Arundel 323, perhaps 13th century, described above. 

* Arundel 142, 15th century, fols. 1-93. 

The following contain only portions of the work : 
♦Arundel 298, perhaps 13th century, fols. 1-83, Books 3-9. 

* Arundel 164, 15th century, fols. 5-58, preface and four books. 
Sloane 2428, 13th century, 9 fols., Book 14 on gems. 

Sloane 405, 15th century, fols. 65-107, "De natura rerum liber 
primus," attributed to Albertus Magnus but really the prologue 
of Thomas and most of his first book on anatomy. 

At Oxford 

Selden supra 75 (Bernard 3463), early 14th century, fols. ir-23iv, 
de naturis rerum secundum diversos philosophos. In 1919 the 
proof sheets for the new Summary Catalogue of Bodleian MSS 
still stated: "The author, who wrote while Jacobus de Vitriaco 
was bishop of Tusculum (1228-44: fol. iv), appears to be un- 

*Canon. Misc. 356, 14th century. Anon. De naturis rerum. 

Corpus Christi 221, 14th century, fol. 2-. Liber in quo tractatus 
de motu coeli, de dementis, de mari, de propriis mirabilibus 
cuiuslibet terrae, de lapidibus pretiosis, de metallis, de fructi- 
bus, de avibus, de bestiis, etc. 

*Corpus Christi 274, 15th century, fol. 6-, Anon, de naturis rerum. 

Lincoln College 57, 13th century. Anon, de proprietatibus rerum. 
This is the version in 20 books. 

At Cambridge 
Trinity 1058, 13th century, well-written, the version in 20 books, 
ending at fol. i86v. 

James fails to rectify the attribution of the work to Albertus 
Magnus in both the following MSS : 

Gonville and Caius 414, 13th century, fols. 1-161V. 
Gonville and Caius 35, 15th century, fols. 1-137. 


At Vienna 
Vienna 2357, 14th century, fols. 1-46, Lucretius de naturis rerum. 
Vienna 5371, 15th century, fols. i-ioor. Opus de rerum naturis. 

At Munich 
CLM 326, 14th century, 95 fols. The catalogue states, "Liber 

Thomae Cantipr. vel. Conradi Megenb. similis, sed multo am- 

plior"; but its preceding description of the contents is sufficient 

to identify the work as Thomas of Cantimpre's. 
CLM 2655, 13th century, fols. 1-94, de naturis rerum visibilium. 
CLM 3206, I3-I4th century, fols. 1-145, de naturis rerum liber. 
CLM 6908, 13th century, fols. 1-78, Tractatus de naturis animalium 

in XX libros divisus quorum tres extremi desunt. 
CLM 8439, 15th century, fols. 84-144, Alberti Magni de naturis 

CLM 11481, anno 1390, de naturis rerum. 
CLM 13582, 14th century, Thomae Cantipratensis liber de natura 

CLM 14340, 15th century, Thomae de Catimprato de naturis seu 

proprietatibus rerum, in codice tributus Alberto Magno. 
CLM 21008, 14th century, De proprietatibus rerum. 
CLM 23879, 15th century, fols. 1-93, de natura rerum. 
CLM 27006, anno 1409, fols. 1-170, de natura rerum. 


*Wolfenbiittel 4499, 14th century, the version in 20 books, cata- 
logued by Heinemann as anonymous. 

Dole 173-80, 15th century, fols. 1-189, "De secretis nature, Alberti 

S. Marco XII-65, 15th century, ascribed to Albert, but opening, 
"Septem sunt regiones aeris, ut dicunt philosophi." 

* Florence, Ashburnham 115, 15th century, "Expliciunt Capitula de 
naturis Lucii Anney Senece Cordubensis, Fortini Stoyci dis- 



For the Berlin MS I follow the catalogue description by V. 
Rose. I have examined personally the two Paris MSS and some 
of those at Oxford. 

Berlin 956, 12th century, fol. 22, what Rose calls the "very 
peculiar original text." "Hie incipit liber sigillorum filiorum 
Israel quern fecerunt in deserto. Cum pluribus libris nobilibus 
magne auctoritatis et nominis vigilante animo atque perspicaci, 
fratres karissimi, studeamus," etc., which may be translated: 
"Here begins the books of seals of the children of Israel which 
they made in the desert. Although, dearest brothers, we have 
studied many noble books of great authority and name with vigi- 
lant and perspicacious mind, we have not found any book so dear 
and precious as this is. For this is that great and secret precious 
book of seals of Cehel the Israelite, which the children of Israel 
made in the desert after their exodus from Egypt according to the 
course and motion of the stars. And because many false books are 
made in imitation of this, in order that we may perfectly know the 
virtue of these seals we have noted them down in this little book." 

BN 8454, I2-I3th century, fols. 65v-66r, Liber magnus et se- 
cretus sigillorum Cehel. The Incipit and text closely resemble 
Digby 79, except that the name is spelled "Cehel" and that no 
mention is made of the planets. 

BN 16204, 13th century, pp. 500-7. Has the same Incipit as 
BN 8454 and Digby 79, except that the name is spelled "Theel" and 
that the last clause of the Incipit, "et quia multi . . . subnotavi- 
mus" (for which see the description of Digby 79 below) is omitted. 
On the other hand, we have the following opening paragraph of 
text which is not found in BN 8454: "I, Theel, one of the sons 
of the children of Israel, who after the transit of the Red Sea ate 
manna in the wilderness and drank water from the rock and saw 
innumerable miracles with my own eyes, and heard why from the 
twelve tribes twelve precious stones are worn by order of the 
Lord on Aaron's vestments. And I myself chose them. And 
besides this selection I have inspected the engraving of gems made, 
as the divine Nature willed, according to the movement of the 



signs and the courses of the planets. And I have learned the 
virtues of many. And I am called Theel (or rather, Cheel) for 
this reason, because I have written of sealing (de celationc), that 
is, concerning the sculpture of gems, and not because I have con- 
cealed and kept to myself what God and nature have produced, for 
I write to you, my posterity, in order that through these few brief 
words many seals may be known in the nature of stones." 

This MS then has at pp. 500-2 the same text as BN 8454 except 
that the names of the planets are inserted before the first seven 
seals. At p. 502 the text as given in BN 8454 ends with the words, 
"Hoc autem sigillum fertur habuisse galienus," but the Hsting of 
seals continues in BN 16204 until the top of p. 507, where the work 
of Haly on elections begins. 

Digby 79, 13th century, fols. 178V-180, opens, "In nomine Do- 
mini nostri Jesu Christi. Hie est liber preciosus magnus atque 
secretus sigillorum Eethel quem fecerunt filii Israel in deserto post 
exitum ab Egipto secundum motus et cursus siderum, et quia multi 
ad similitudinem huius falso facti sunt, in hoc libello subnotavi- 
mus." This version differs from that of Thomas of Cantimpre, 
since its first seal is made under the planet Mercury and is an 
image of a man seated on a plow. Then "under Mars" comes a 
fuller description of what is the first seal in Thomas's version. 

Digby 193, 14th century, fol. 30, closely resembles Digby 79, 
except that the name is spelled "Cethel." 

Ashmole 1471, late 14th century, fols. 65V-67V, closely resem- 
bles Thomas of Cantimpre's text. "Incipit liber Techel. Liber 
Techel nomine editus de sculpturis lapidum a filiis Israel eo tem- 
pore quo per desertum transierunt, et transierunt ut intrarent ter- 
ram promissionis : propterea hii lapides leguntur f uisse assignati 
in templo Appollonis a rege Persarum cum consilio omnium astro- 
logorum tam Egiptiorum quam Caldeorum secundum cursum sig- 
norum et cursum planetarum." Next ensue the same preliminary 
observations that Thomas makes; the text of Techel proper begins 
only at fol. 66v. 

Canon. Misc. 285, 15th century, fol. 40, anon., "In nomine dei 
Amen; Pretiosissimus liber sigillorum quem filii Israel post 
exitum. . . ." 

Corpus Christi 221, 14th century, fol. 55. 

Selden 3464 (Bernard), $ 9. 

CUL 1391, 14th century, fols. 204V-207V, "Liber magnus de 
sigillis lapidum et de virtutibus eorum quem fecerunt Filii Israelis 
in Deserto." Like BN 8454 it closes, "hoc sigillum fertur habuisse 



Bartholomew on the character of his book — Question of its date^ 
Who are the most recent authors cited in it? — How far are its cita- 
tions first-hand? — Its medieval currency — Not a mere compilation nor 
limited to Biblical topics — The nature of demons — Psychology and 
physiology — Vision and perspective — IMedieval domestic science — The 
medieval domestic servant — Medieval boys — Medieval girls — A medi- 
eval dinner — Dreams and their interpretation — Medical advice — Poisons 
— The waters above the firmament — The empyrean heaven : Rabanus — 
Alexander of Hales — Aristotelian theory of one heaven — As the basis 
of astrology — Properties and effects of the signs and planets — Barthol- 
omew illustrates the general medieval acceptance of astrology — Medi- 
eval divisions of the day and hour — Form and matter; fire and coal — 
Air and its creatures — The swallow, swallow-stone, and swallow-wort 
— The hoopoe and magic — Water and fish — Jorath on whales — Geog- 
raphy; physical and political — Also economic — Medieval boundaries — 
France in the thirteenth century — Brittany and the British Isles — A 
geography by Herodotus — Two passages about magic — Bartholomew 
and Arnold of Saxony on stones — Citations by Arnold of Saxony and 
Bartholomew — Virtues of animals — Physiologus — Color, odor, savor, 

On the Properties of Things by Bartholomew of England ^ Bartholo- 

is, as has been said in a previous chapter, a work of the ^^^u". 

same sort as those on the natures of things by his earlier acterof 

his book. 
Bartholomew has already been "Explicit liber de proprietatibus 

presented in part to English-speak- rerutn editus a fratre Bartholomeo 
ing readers in Steele's Medieval anglico ordinis fratrum minorum. 
Lore, London, 1907, and more re- Anno domini Mcccclxxxviii kalen- 
cently in excerpts in Coulton's das vero Junii xii." 
Social Life in Britain from the I am indebted to the liberality 

Norman Conquest to the Reforma- of the John Crerar Library in 
tion, Cambridge, 1918, but their Chicago in allowing this rare vol- 
quotations and most other mod- ume to be transported to Cleve- 
ern references to him are based land for my use. 
upon the later medieval English I have also checked up the print- 

versions of his work and not upon ed text to some extent by ex- 
his own original Latin text. My amination of the following MSS 
summary is based directly upon at Paris. On the whole the dis- 
the Latin text as printed by crepancies between the MSS and 
Lindelbach at Heidelberg in 1488: printed version seem slight, al- 



fellow-countryman, Alexander of Neckam, and his contem- 
porary of Brabant, Thomas of Cantimpre. Bartholomew 
himself clearly states the character, purpose, and scope of 
his work both at its beginning and again in closing. It is 
primarily a brief compilation of passages on the natures 
and properties of things, which are scattered through the 
works both of the saints and the philosophers, with the in- 
tent of making plainer the enigmas which the Holy Scrip- 
tures conceal under the symbols and figures of the properties 
of natural and artificial objects. Bartholomew further 
speaks modestly of his work as an elementary treatise, text- 
book, or work of reference for the benefit of "young scholars 
and the general reader (simplices et parvuli) who because 
of the infinite number of books cannot look up the properties 
of the objects of which Scripture treats, nor are they able 
to find quickly even a superficial treatment of what they are 
after." ^ Bartholomew's book is therefore "a simple and 
rude" compilation, but he hopes that it may prove useful 
to persons who, like himself, are not advanced scholars. But 
after mastering this elementary treatise, they should pro- 
ceed to more subtle and specialized works. And if they 
think that anything should be added to what he has given, 
let them add it. From the tone of these remarks compared 
to those of Thomas of Cantimpre one would infer that 
the number of available books and also the amount of avail- 
able knowledge had considerably increased since Thomas 
wrote. Yet at the most Bartholomew cannot have written 
very many years later than Thomas, and it is most likely 
that their books appeared almost simultaneously. 
Question If Bartholomew's last sentence is interpreted as an open 

of Its date, invitation to his readers to issue revised editions of the 
book or at least add to their own copies further extracts 

though a modern critical edition Since I finished this chapter a 

of Bartholomew's work is cer- paper has appeared by G. E. Se 

tainly desirable, especially in view Boyar, "Bartholomaeus Anglicus 

of the rarity of the editio prin- and his Encyclopaedia." in The 

ceps. Journal of English and Germanic 

BN 16098, 13th century. Philology, XIX (1920) 168-89. 

BN 16099, 13th century. ^ De propriet. rerum,^odkyi.lX, 

BN 347, 14th century. close. 


from the writings of the saints and the philosophers, we 
shall feel that it is rather risky to attempt to determine the 
date of the first appearance of the De proprietatibus rermn 
from the date of the latest works cited in our present copies. 
But all the manuscripts seem to be essentially alike regard- 
less of date, and the printed edition seems to vary little from 
the text of the earliest manuscripts. To assist us in deter- 
mining when Bartholomew lived and wrote we have a re- 
quest from the General of the Franciscan Order in 1230 
asking the French provincial to send to Magdeburg in 
Saxony Brother Bartholomaeus Anglicus to act as lecturer 
there. ^ Salimbene, writing in 1284, cites a passage from 
Bartholomew concerning elephants and looks back upon him 
as a great clerk who lectured on the whole Bible in course 
at Paris.- Bartholomew speaks of the inhabitants of 
Livonia as having been forced by the Germans from the 
cult of demons to the Faith of one God, and states that by 
divine grace and the cooperation of the Germans they are 
now believed to be freed from their former errors.^ But 
since the conquest of Livonia began as early as 1202, this 
passage does not serve to date Bartholomew's work very 

It has already been remarked by the Histoire Litteraire Who are 
de la France that in the bibliography at the close of his ,.£^6™°^ 

work Bartholomew mentions no writer of later date than a"tho" 

cited in it ? 
the early thirteenth century."* As Bartholomew himself 

states, however, he uses "many other" authorities than those 
given in the list, and other names are found sprinkled 
through his text. In the printed edition of 1488 the Specu- 
lum naturale of Vincent of Beauvais, which was not written 
until 1250, is cited,^ but this mention is found in the last 
sentence of a chapter and may be pretty certainly regarded 

^Wadding, Annales, 1230, No. liography. 

16; cited HL XXX, 355. °IV, 2, "Hec vincentius in 

* Cited HL XXX, 354. speculo suo natural!, li. Ill, ca. 

* De propriet. rerum, XV, 88. Ixxiii." I was not able to find 

* HL XXX, 357 ; at pp. 356-7 this citation in such MSS as I 
it reproduces Bartholomew's bib- examined. 


as a later interpolation.^ In citing commentaries upon the 
works of Aristotle the printed text confuses the abbrevia- 
tions Albu., Alter., and Alfre. or Alur., standing respectively 
for Albumasar, Albertus Magnus, and Aluredus or Alfred 
of England who alone is listed in Bartholomew's bibliog- 
raphy. There seems to be no certain citation of Albert. 
If Bartholomew had read Albert's sharp criticism of Jorath, 
he perhaps would not have made use of that author. The 
bibliography includes the names of Michael Scot who was 
dead by 1235 and of Robert of Lincoln, by whom Grosseteste 
must be meant, who was born about 1175, became bishop of 
Lincoln in 1235, and died in 1253. A Gilbertus mentioned 
in the bibliography may be either the medical writer, Gilbert 
of England, whose own date is somewhat uncertain, or a 
corruption for Gerbert. These three writers are seldom, if 
ever, cited by name in the text of Bartholomew. But he 
does cite Alexander of Hales ^ who died in 1245. On the 
whole it seems possible that Bartholomew wrote his work 
as early as 1230. 
How far The Histoire Litteraire asserts that "Bartholomew surely 

citations "^^^ "^^ acquainted with all the authors, true or supposi- 
first-hand? titious, whom he is pleased to enumerate," but it gives no 
grounds except the list itself for this sceptical attitude. It 
is true that in the case of a few authorities in his list, such 
as Scipio Africanus, Ninus Delphicus, and Epicurus, it 
would have been as difficult to find any works by them then 
as now. But I believe that Bartholomew was a wide reader 
and acquainted with the greater part of the books and 
authors that he cites. Modern writers concerning medieval 
learning have too often proceeded upon the gratuitous as- 
sumption that medieval writers seldom were directly ac- 
quainted with the authorities which they cite. But one sus- 
pects that those who have assumed this were none too well 

* Had the Speculum naturale he did of the need of one com- 

been written before the De pro- pilation on the natures and prop- 

prietatibus rerum, Bartholomew, erties of things, had the Speculum 

if he cited it at all, would have already been in existence, 

made use of it more than once, ' VHI, 3. 
but would hardly have spoken as 


acquainted themselves either with the works citing or cited. 
And why should medieval scholars take their citations at 
second hand? The original works were fairly accessible; 
the earliest manuscripts we have of them are almost in- 
variably medieval, and probably they had many, many more 
copies that are now destroyed, and possibly some originals 
that are now forever lost. As for Bartholomew, his cita- 
tions are so numerous, so varied, so specific that they must 
be largely first-hand.^ Obviously he did not spare himself 
trouble in making a book to save others trouble. Bartholo- 
mew also seems to be scrupulously honest in his citations. 
For instance, Pythagoras is cited but once in the Etymologies 
of Isidore," and when Bartholomew makes use of this 
passage, he gives both Pythagoras and Isidore credit.^ It is 
therefore only fair to Bartholomew to admit that, had his 
citation of Pythagoras in The Book of the Romans been 
drawn from any third author, he would have given him 
credit too. Bartholomew cites Pliny's Natural History by 
book and chapter and is evidently directly acquainted with 
it. On the whole, I am inclined to think that medieval 
writers had read quite as much of the works listed in their 
bibliographies as modern writers have of those listed in 

In the Bibliotheque Nationale at Paris alone there are Its 
eighteen manuscripts of the De proprietatibiis rerum, chiefly "rremT' 
of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth century, and the 
Histoire Litteraire tells us that its title appears in a cata- 
logue of the books which the medieval booksellers of Paris 
rented to the students at that university.'* The work also 
occurs with frequency in the manuscript collections of Eng- 
land, Germany, and Italy. Hain's list of fourteen printed 
editions of it before 1500 is incomplete, and the British 
Museum catalogue of books printed in Germany alone in 
the fifteenth century mentions nine editions. It was trans- 

^ It is true that they do not * EtymoL, XII, 4. 

always seem absolutely accurate, ' De propriet. rerum, XVIII, 8. 

but copyists may have altered or * HL XXX. 363. 
misplaced them. 



Not a 
mere com- 

limited to 

lated into French under Charles V in the fourteenth century, 
and also appeared in English, Spanish, and Dutch versions, 
all three of which were printed at the end of the fifteenth 
century. These facts indicate that the work was, and con- 
tinued until the sixteenth century to be, widely used as a 
text-book, and suggest the further thought that such widely 
multiplied and disseminated elementary and popular works 
are more likely to have survived the stagnant and destruc- 
tive period of the Black Death and Hundred Years War and 
to have come down to us than are the more advanced, origi- 
nal, and elaborate works of the thirteenth century. Be that 
as it may, we must not look upon the De proprietatibus rerum 
as a specimen of the most advanced medieval scholarship, 
but rather as an illustration of the rough general knowledge 
which every person with any pretense to culture was then 
supposed to possess. At the same time, the large number 
of authorities cited shows how much wider reading a medie- 
val student might do. 

On the other hand, we must not be misled by Bartholo- 
mew's humble tone of self -depreciation nor even by his as- 
sertion, repeated at the close as well as the opening of his 
work, that he presents "little or nothing of my own, but 
simply the words of the saints and the sayings of the philoso- 
phers." As a matter of fact, he not infrequently alludes to 
contemporary matters or describes daily life without men- 
tioning any authorities, and his amusing accounts of such 
animals as cats and dogs, or boys and girls, or his instruc- 
tions how to set a table and give a dinner, are almost entirely 
his own and show considerable power of observation and 
dry humor. His chapters on geography, too, deal in large 
measure and with unusual fulness with the feudal states 
and peoples of his own day: Scotland, Ireland, Flanders, 
Brabant, Anjou, Poitou, and so on through a long list alpha- 
betically arranged. In these and in other chapters he forgets 
all about the fact that he is supposedly explaining only those 
things mentioned in the Bible, and is manifestly actuated by 
a scientific interest in present facts and phenomena. The 


influence of Isidore's Etymologies upon Bartholomew's book 
is evident, and Bartholomew often makes Isidore his start- 
ing point in discussing a given topic. But he also often goes 
far beyond the other's brief statements; it seems clear that 
the scanty contents of the Etymologies are no longer deemed 
sufficient even in an elementary encylopedia and general 
text-book. Bartholomew seems to use the scissors less than 
Thomas of Cantimpre, to state things more in his own 
words, and not to make such long extracts from or para- 
phrases of other works. 

However, in Bartholomew's first book, whose subject is 
God, the first two chapters are taken entirely and perhaps 
discreetly, since the difficult problem of the Trinity is under 
discussion, from an Extra of Innocent III, while the third 
chapter is drawn from more varied authorities, such as 
Augustine, the treatise on the Trinity ascribed to Boethius,^ 
and the more recent Hugh and Richard, both of St. Victor. 
Presently the theme of divine names is discussed ^ and 
Bartholomew lists and explains the ten Hebrew names of 
God, which are found also in Isidore, namely : El, Eloe, 
Sabbaoth, Zelioz or Ramathel, Eyel, Adonay, Ya, Tetra- 
grammaton, Saday, and Eloym. 

In the second book on the properties of angels is also The 
discussed the nature of demons.^ They are naturally per- "g^Q^^ 
spicacious in matters of science and powerful by their "sense 
of nature" — a phrase which we have already met in William 
of Auvergne, whom, however, I think Bartholomew does 
not cite ; perhaps it was a technical expression that spread 
rapidly from mouth to mouth of medieval psychologists as 
such expressions do today, — experience of time, and knowl- 
edge of Scripture. They can predict many future events, 
partly because their knowledge of nature gained through 
their subtler senses is superior to man's, partly because of 
their longer lives which permit them to learn more, partly 
by angelic revelation. Their bodies were celestial before 

* And now again accepted as 'De propriet. rerum, I, 19. 

his ; see above, chapter 27, page ' Ibid., II, 19-20. 



they transgressed but now are aerial. Apuleius's characteri- 
zation of them is repeated zda Augustine, whose explanation 
is also given, that they know occult virtues in nature which 
are hidden from us and by which they are able to accelerate 
natural processes and work feats of magic such as those 
performed by Pharaoh's magicians. 
Psy- Bartholomew's third book may be described as psycho- 

andphysi- logical and discusses the human mind or soul (anima), of 
ology. which definitions by various Greek philosophers are repeated, 

and the senses. The fourth and fifth books are physiological. 
These three books seem to be based mainly upon the writings 
of Constantinus Africanus; less frequently Aristotle and 
other authorities are cited. One treatise is ascribed to 
Avicenna and Constantinus which is not in Peter the 
Deacon's list of the latter's works, namely, a treatise on 
poisonous animals and poisons and presumably a transla- 
tion of Avicenna by Constantinus.^ In this connection we 
are told that w^hile some animals have poisonous tongues like 
snakes, others have medicinal and healing tongues like the 
dog, as Cassiodorus says, and either from the goodness of 
nature or from some occult property.- We have already 
noted elsewhere Bartholomew's acceptance of the usual 
medieval theory of three brain cells devoted to three mental 
faculties, in which connection he cites Johannitius or Hunain 
ibn Ishak.^ In discussing the disease of melancholia 
Bartholomew tells of a noble w^hom he knew who imagined 
that he was a cat and insisted upon sleeping under the bed 
in order to watch the mouse holes. ^ In a later passage in 
his seventh book Bartholomew repeats Constantinus' distinc- 
tion between mania as an infection of the anterior cell of 
the brain with injury to the imagination and melancholia 
as an infection of the central cell with loss of one's reason.^ 

^ De proprict. rernni, V, 21-22. 22, "ut dicunt predicti auctores in 

(Henceforth all citations in this tractatu de venenis." 
chapter, unless otherwise noted, 'V, 21. 

will be to this work.) BN 16099, ^III. 10 and 16; V, 3. 

fol. 3ir, V. 21, "ut dicunt avicenna * IV, 11. 

ct constantinus in tractatu de vene- 'VII, 5. 

nosis animalibus et venenis" ; V. 




In discussing vision Bartholomew gives the views of Vision 
"an author of the science of perspective" precedence over spectfve 
those of Constantinus.^ This author beHeves that in vision 
three coterminous pyramids or cones are formed with the 
apex of each in the pupil of the eye and the base formed 
by the object seen. One pyramid is made up of species from 
the object coming along straight lines to the center of the 
eye. The second pyramid is made by the vision going out 
from the eye to the object seen. The third pyramid con- 
sists of light, which, as Bartholomew explains elsewhere ^ 
on the authority of Basel and Dionysius and Augustine,^ is 
a distinct substance by which other bodies are illuminated. 
Light was created three days before sun and moon which 
are simply vehicles for it. But while this light is always 
shining, whether visibly or invisibly, it produces illumination 
only v/hen other bodies are in a condition to receive it. The 
human eye can see itself only by the reflection of rays, "and 
possibly the vision delights in the sight of a mirror be- 
cause through reflection of rays it is, by returning to itself, 
fortified as it were and in a way strengthened." ^ 

Bartholomew's sixth book is entitled, "Of ages," but 
really deals more with matters of daily family and domestic 
life, discussing in addition to age, death, infancy, childhood, 
manhood, such family relationships as father, mother, and 
daughter, and such domestic concerns as servants, food and 
drink, dinners and banquets, sleep and waking, dreams and 
exercise. This last topic of exercise is discussed largely in 
the words of a sermon by Fulgentius, but in other chapters 
Bartholomew writes so vividly from his own observation 
that he deserves quotation, although the themes are some- 
what of a digression from our main subject."* 


'HI, 17. 
'VIII, 40. 

'V, 7- 

* Since I completed this chapter 
in manuscript form there has ap- 
peared in print G. C. Coulton's 
Social Life in Britain from the 
Conquest to the Reformation, 
Cambridge, IQ18, in which he has 

selected almost exactly the same 
passages from Bartholomew as 
illustrations of his theme. This 
is welcome confirmation of their 
interest and importance, and I 
have decided to let the follow- 
ing paragraphs stand for two rea- 
sons, despite the fact that they 
are now available elsewhere in 






"The handmaid is a female slave deputed to make herself 
useful to the housewife. She is assigned to the more labori- 
ous and demeaning tasks, she is fed with coarser food, she 
is clad in meaner clothing, she is oppressed by the yoke of 
servitude." Her son becomes a serf and, if she is of servile 
condition, so does a freeman who marries her, nor is she 
permitted to marry as she chooses. "Like the serf, she is 
because of the vice of ingratitude recalled after being manu- 
mitted, is afflicted with scoldings, is bruised by rods and 
beatings, is oppressed by varied and conflicting vexations 
and anxieties, is scarcely permitted to breathe amid her 
miseries." Such painting of her woes does not imply much 
sympathy on Bartholomew's part, however, since he con- 
cludes by saying that it is written that whoso nourishes his 
servant delicately will find him insolent in the end.^ 

Boys have a great capacity for mischief but are sus- 
ceptible to discipline, if put under tutors and compelled to 
submit to it. Their constitutions are hot and moist, their 
flesh is soft, their bodies are flexible, agile, and light; their 
minds are docile. They lead a safe life without care and 
worry, appreciating only play, fearing no danger more than 
the rod, loving apples better than gold. They go naked un- 
ashamed; they are heedless of praise or scolding, easily 
angered and easily placated, easily hurt in the body and 
unable to endure much work. The hot humor that domi- 
nates them makes them restless and fickle. They tend to 
eat too much and are susceptible to various diseases in 
consequence. They think only of the present and care 
nothing for the future; they love games and vanities but 
refuse to attend to gain and utility. "The least things they 

English. In the first place any 
description of the De proprieta- 
tibus rerum would seem rather 
incomplete without them. In the 
second place Mr. Coulton gives 
the passages in Trevisa's English 
translation, while I have made a 
translation direct from the Latin 
text in more modern English. 
The exaggerated impression of 
quaintness and illiteracy which the 

old English version makes upon 
the modern reader finds in my 
opinion little or no justification 
in the original Latin. Men ap- 
parently could think more directly 
in Latin in the thirteenth century 
than they could express them- 
selves in English in the four- 
teenth or fifteenth century. 
»VI, II. 


think the greatest, and vice versa." "They want what is 
hurtful and contrary to them." They do not remember 
favors received. All that they see they desire and imitate. 
They prefer to talk with and take advice from other boys, 
and shun the company of their elders. They can't keep 
secrets. They laugh or cry easily, and they are continually 
shouting, talking, or chattering, and can scarcely keep still 
even while they are asleep.^ 

Girls "are in constitution hot, moist, and of delicate Medieval 
health: in physique graceful and flexible and beautiful; in ^^^ ^' 
mental attitude modest and timid and playful ; in their social 
relations well trained in manners, cautious and reticent in 
speech, luxurious in dress." After quoting Aristotle to the 
effect that women generally have longer and softer hair than 
men and a longer neck, and remarking the peculiarities of 
their complexions and figures, Bartholomew says further 
that they have slenderer and more flexible hands and feet, a 
weaker voice, voluble and ready speech, that they take short 
steps, and that in mind they tend to be haughty, are prone 
to wrath, tenacious in hate, merciful, jealous, impatient of 
labor, docile, tricky, bitter, and "headlong in lust." ^ 
Whether Bartholomew is inconsistent in this passage or be- 
lieves that the female nature is, the reader must judge. 

These are Bartholomew's instructions for giving a din- Amedie- 
ner party : "First the food is prepared ; at the same time the 
guests are assembled ; chairs and also stools are required ; in 
the dining room tables are set and the table furnishings are 
arranged and adorned. The guests with the host are placed 
at the head table, but they do not sit down at table before 
the hands of the guests are washed ; next the host's children 
and then the servants are grouped together at table. Spoons, 
knives, and salt cellars are first placed upon the table. Loaves 
of bread and cups of wine are presently added. There fol- 
low many and varied courses ; the butlers and waiters serve 
each person diligently. The guests joyfully engage in vying 
with one another in pledging toasts; they are cheered with 
'VI, 5. 'VI. 6. 



and their 


viols and citharas ; now the wines and now the courses are 
renewed; they divide and share with one another the dishes 
which happen to be opposite them ; finally the fruit and 
dessert are brought in. When dinner is finished, the table 
furnishings and remains of food are carried away and the 
tables are set aside. Hands are again washed and wiped; 
thanks are returned to God and to the host ; for the sake of 
good cheer the cups go round again and again. When these 
features of the dinner are over, the guests either are offered 
couches for some rest, or are allowed to return home." ^ 

In a chapter on dreams Bartholomew declares that they 
are sometimes true and sometimes false. One should neither 
put indiscriminate faith in them nor spurn them entirely, 
since sometimes certain conjectures concerning the future 
may be had through dreams. Moreover, the meaning of 
some dreams is evident at once; others require interpreta- 
tion. Dreams arise from varied sources, being produced 
by divine inspiration, by angelic administration, by diabolic 
illusion, or by natural and bodily causes.^ 

Bartholomew's seventh book is medical, treating of in- 
firmities in seventy chapters. His desire to be brief is prob- 
ably what restrains him from including any long medical 
concoctions. He continues to make much use of Constan- 
tinus Africanus, who is cited in almost every chapter, and 
whose "many other experiments" ^ Bartholomew often has 
not time to include. One of the cures cited from Con- 
stantinus is to scarify the shin bones in order to cure a 
headache, the theory being that this will remove the injuri- 
ous humor from the head to the lower extremities.'* A 
part of the treatment prescribed for cases of frenzy is to 
shave the scalp and wash it with tepid vinegar or cover 
it with plasters made of the lung of a pig or cow. Keeping 
the patient firmly bound in a dark place, bleeding him, and 
abstaining from answering his foolish questions are other 
features of the regimen suggested.^ To rouse a patient 

'VI, 22. 

'VI, 27. 
•VII, 9 and 16. 

'VII, 2. 
VII. 4. 


from a state of stupor and lethargy it is recommended to 
pull hard at his hair or beard, dash cold water frequently 
in his face, or make a stench under him.^ An "experiment" 
against epilepsy from Platearius consists in scarifying three 
drops of blood from the patient's scalp and at the end of 
the fit giving them to him to eat with a crow's egg.- In- 
deed crow's eggs alone are regarded as quite beneficial. To 
Platearius is also credited the following method "of curing 
or at least palliating leprosy."^ Take a red snake with a 
white belly, remove the venom, cut ofif the head and tail, 
cook it with leeks, and administer it frequently with food, — 
a preparation roughly similar to theriac. Wine in which a 
snake has lain putrefying a long time is "a medicine useful 
for many diseases," and Bartholomew repeats the tale we 
have heard before of the woman who caused her blind hus- 
band to recover his sight instead of killing him when she 
cooked a snake instead of an eel with garlic for him to eat. 
After such liberties had been taken with his blindness, one 
would expect a husband to recover his sight, if he could! 

The poisons of venomous animals differ. The venom Poisons, 
of the viper is hot and dry; that of the scorpion, cold and 
dry ; that of the spider, cold and moist. Avicenna says that 
the poison of the male is really more deadly than that of 
the female, but female serpents have more teeth and so 
are perhaps worse on the whole. The venom of the old 
is more injurious than that of the young; that of a fasting 
animal is more harmful than that of a full animal; and 
poisons are worse in summer than winter, and at noon than 
at night.* "Diascorides'' says ^ that river crabs possess an 
occult virtue against the bite of mad dogs, and their ashes 
taken with gentian are a singular remedy. A scorpion sting 
may be cured by placing oil in which the scorpion has been 
drowned or boiled upon the puncture, or by pulverizing the 
scorpion's body and placing it upon the wound. The idea 

' VII, 6. * VII, 66. 

='VII, 9- = VII, 68. 

' VII, 64. 



above the 


heaven : 

of course is that the poison will return to the body from 
which it came. 

In book eight Bartholomew discusses the universe and 
celestial bodies. According to the tradition of the saints 
there is a visible and an invisible heaven. The visible heaven 
is multiplex and subdivides into seven heavens, the aerial, 
ethereal, fiery, Olympian, the firmament, the aqueous or 
crystalline, and the empyrean. The authority of Scripture 
concerning the waters above the firmament causes Bartholo- 
mew to accept the existence of an aqueous or crystalline 
heaven. But he rejects Bede's view that these waters are 
cold and congealed in order to temper the excessive heat 
generated by the swift revolution of the other heavens, for 
Job tells us that there is concord and harmony in the heavens, 
and cold and humid waters would be contrary to the celestial 
substance of the heavens. Therefore "the moderns" have 
in Bartholomew's opinion "investigated the inmost secrets 
of philosophy more profoundly," when, as Alexander of 
Hales states, they suggest that those waters are neither 
frigid, fluid, and humid, nor congealed, solid, and ponderous, 
but on the contrary very mobile and remarkable for their 
clearness and transparency. It is not because they are con- 
gealed but because they are transparent that this heaven is 
called crystalline.^ In other words, the "waters above the 
firmament" are not really waters. And the original modern 
investigator who ventured to dispute Bede's authority on the 
subject of the waters above the firmament was not Alex- 
ander of Hales but, as we have seen, William of Conches, 
whom Bartholomew lists in his bibliography and quotes in 
other passages, although he does not mention him by name 

Of the other heavens Bartholomew gives most space 
to the empyrean. It is by nature immobile and unmoved 
and consequently is not essential like the other heavens for 
the continued generation of things in our inferior world, 
but rather, as Alexander of Hales says, to round out the 

'VIII, 3- 


universe and the types of bodies in it. Bartholomew con- 
tinues : "The empyrean heaven is the first body, simplest in 
nature, the least corporeal, the subtlest, the first firmament 
of the world, largest in quantity, lucid in quality, spherical 
in shape, loftiest in location since farthest from the center, 
embracing in its amplitude spirits and bodies visible and in- 
visible, and the abode of the supreme God; for God may be 
everywhere, yet he is said especially to be in the heaven, since 
there shines most powerfully the working of his virtue." ^ 
After this description of the last of the visible heavens as 
the abode of invisible spirits and of God Himself there does 
not seem to be much call for an invisible heaven, which 
Bartholomew himself seems by this time to have forgotten. 
For the passage just quoted he cites Rabanus as his source 
"who employs the words of Basil in the Hexaemeron," 
but I have been unable to find the passage either in the 
Hexaemeron of Basil or the works of Rabanus Maurus.^ 
Nor have I been able to find several other citations which 
Bartholomew makes from Rabanus in matters astronomical 
and astrological. 

A word may be introduced concerning Alexander of Alexander 
Hales, whom Bartholomew has twice cited in the foregoing °* Hales, 
passages, but whom we probably shall not have occasion 
to mention again. Like Bartholomew, he was an English- 
man and a Franciscan, and Bartholomew may have been 
either an attendant upon his lectures or his colleague at 
Paris. He died in 1245 and is known as one of the first 
to attempt to fit together previous Christian opinion and 
theology witli the newly introduced works of Aristotle and 
writings of the Arabs. Of this we see evidence in the 
citations made from him by Bartholomew. But Alexan- 
der's field was primarily theology and not natural science. 

While the saints may regard the heavens as manifold 

and list as many as seven of them,^ the philosophers will 

^ VIII, 4. "The Seven Heavens — an early 

*At least as printed in Migne, Jewish and Christian belief" 

PL. (Morfill and Charles. The Book 

* R. H. Charles, in discussing of the Secrets of Enoch. Oxford, 



of one 

As the 
basis of 

admit only one heaven, says Bartholomew, who this time 
correctly quotes Basil as affirming in the Hexaemeron that 
"the philosophers would rather gnaw out their tongues than 
admit that there are many heavens." Bartholomew also 
presents Aristotle's view in the Liber de celo et mimdo that 
the heaven is characterized by the greatest possible sim- 
plicity and purity and has no division or contrariety of 
parts. According to the new translation of De celo et 
mundo it is "a perfect complete unit to which there is no 
like, neither fabricated nor generated," and with an equal, 
single, and circular motion. In the De causis elementoriim 
Aristotle holds further that the heaven is a fifth element, 
differing in natural properties and distinct from the four 
elements and not like them subject to generation and cor- 
ruption.^ Indeed, they would destroy one another by their 
mutual contrariety and repugnance were it not for the 
conciliating influence of celestial virtue.^ But while the 
heaven is one, it has many orbs and circles of varying figure 
and magnitude, and there is a greater aggregation of light 
in the stars than in other parts of the sky. Such variations 
account for the varying or even contrary effects produced 
by the heaven in our lower world at different times and 
places, and explain why the pure sky causes corruption as 
well as generation here belov/. 

The Aristotelian foundation thus laid for the super- 
structure of astrological science and art is apparently ac- 
cepted by Bartholomew, who states that "the Creator 
established the heaven as the cause and origin of generation 
and corruption, and therefore it was necessary that it should 
not be subject to generation and corruption." In short, the 
universe divides into two parts. The heaven, beginning 
with the circle of the moon, is the nobler, simpler, superior, 

1896, pp. xxx-xlvii), asserts that 
after Chrysostom, "Finally such 
conceptions, failing in the course 
of the next few centuries to find 
a home in Christian lands, betook 
themselves to Mohammedan coun- 
tries" {Ibid., xxxi-xxxii). But 

Bartholomew ascribes to "the 
tradition of the saints" a belief 
in the plurality of heavens and a 
sevenfold division of them other 
than the planetary spheres. 

'VIII, 2. 

' VIII, 28. 




and active portion of the universe. The other part, ex- 
tending from the sphere of the moon downward to earth's 
center, is inferior, passive, acted upon and governed by 
the heaven. In all his later scientific and astrological dis- 
cussion Bartholomew implies this hypothesis, and, after the 
two chapters which we have already summarized on the 
waters above the firmament and the empyrean heaven, pays 
no more attention to the seven heavens of the saints. The 
firmament, "called by the philosophers the first heaven and 
the last, in whose convexity are situated the bodies of stars 
and planets,"- absorbs his attention during the remaining 
forty-eight chapters of his eighth book. "By means of its 
motion, it is the effective principle of generation and cor- 
ruption in the inferior world." Rabanus explains how its 
rays converge as toward a center upon the earth's surface 
and exert a concentrated impression there; and the science 
of perspective also illustrates this. The three less stable 
elements, air, fire, and water, obey the firmament even to 
the extent of local motion, as is illustrated by the tides. The 
element earth is not influenced in this way, but produces 
diverse species from itself in obedience to the celestial im- 
pressions which it receives. 

Bartholomew discusses the signs of the zodiac in much Properties 
the usual astrological fashion. They are given animal names of the 
because in their effects they represent the properties of those pil^gfg" 
animals.^ In their effects, too, they may be distinguished 
as hot or cold, masculine or feminine, diurnal or nocturnal ; 
and they are grouped in trios with the four elements and 
cardinal points and in varied relations with the planets. 
Each governs its portion of the human body; thus the Ram 
"dominates the head and face, and produces a hairy body, a 
crooked frame, an oblique face, heavy eyes, short ears, a 
long neck." - Each sign also has its bearings on human 
life; thus Virgo is "the house of sickness, of serfs and 
handmaids and the domestic animals. It signifies incon- 

'VIII, 9. 

VIII, 10. 



mew illus- 
trates the 
of as- 

stancy and changing from place to place." ^ Bartholomew 
indeed devotes a separate chapter to "the properties and 
occult virtues" of each sign "according to the astrologers." ^ 
The seven planets by their progress through the signs and 
conjunctions in them influence every creature on earth.' 
Bartholomew outlines their successive control of the forma- 
tion of the child in the womb. He also devotes a chapter 
to the influence of each planet. Mars, for example, "dis- 
poses men to mobility and levity of mind, to wrath and ani- 
mosity and other choleric passions ; it also fits men for arts 
employing fire such as those of smiths and bakers, just as 
Saturn produces agriculturists and porters of heavy weights, 
and Jupiter on the contrary turns out men adapted to lighter 
pursuits such as orators and money-changers." * Bartholo- 
mew also discusses the head and tail of the dragon as "two 
stars which are not planets but yet seem to have the nature 
and influence of the planets." ^ The fixed stars, too, have 
their influence, causing storms or clear weather and, accord- 
ing to the mathematici, presignifying sad or glad events. 
Bartholomew further sets forth the theory of the magnus 
annus or return of all the stars to the same positions after 
an interval of 15,000 or 36,000 years. "But whatever the 
philosophers have said concerning it, this much is sure that 
it is not for us to determine the last day." * God alone 
knows. Bartholomew's most frequently cited authorities on 
the subject of astrology seem to be Albumasar, Messahala "^ 
(Ma Sha' Allah), and Alphraganus. 

Thus Bartholomew, a Franciscan in good standing, 
who lectured on the Bible at Paris and was called by the 
General of his Order to lecture in Saxony, in a work in- 
tended for elementary students and the general reader, far 

*VIII, 15. 

'VIII, 21, which is the last of 
the twelve chapters. 
'VIII, 22. 
*VIII, 25. 
'VIII, 31. 
'VIII, 33. 
' In the bibliography Miselat 

astrologus; in the text Misa., 
Misael, mesahel, Misalach, etc. I 
am convinced that none of these 
is meant for Michael Scot who 
is also listed in the bibliography 
but does not seem to be cited in 
the text. 


from engaging in any tilt with the astrologers or attacking 
their art as involving fatalism and contrary to morality 
and free will, affirms the general law of the control of earth 
by sky and repeats with little or no question a mass of 
astrological detail from Arabian writers. After such an 
exhibition as this of what a commonplace and matter-of- 
course afifair astrological theory was in the thirteenth cen- 
tury, how impossible it is to have the least sympathy with 
those specialists in medieval learning who would have the 
work of Daniel of Morley shunned like the pest because 
of its astrological doctrine, or account for Bacon's imprison- 
ment in 1278 by his astrological doctrine, or deny that 
Albertus Magnus could have written the Speculum astro- 
nomiae with its astrological doctrine. But of Bacon and 
Albertus more later. 

Bartholomew's ninth book deals with time and its parts. Medieval 
He defines a day as the time occupied by a complete revolu- of t^e day 
tion of the sun around the earth, and states that a day con- and hour, 
sists of twenty-four hours, or of four "quarters" of six 
hours each. But he seems unacquainted with our division 
of the hour into sixty minutes and the minute into sixty 
seconds. Instead he subdivides the hour into four "points" 
or forty "moments." Each moment is thus equivalent to 
a minute and a half of our time, and it may be divided 
further into twelve unciae (ounces), while each uncia in- 
cludes forty-seven atoms, making 22,560 atoms in an hour 
as against 3,600 of our seconds. Honorius of Autun in his 
De imagine mundi, a work written presumably in the first 
part of the twelfth century, speaks of the hour as a twelfth 
part of the day, but makes it consist of four "points," forty 
"moments," and 22,560 atoms just as Bartholomew does. 
But Honorius also divides the hour into ten "minutes," 
fifteen "parts," and sixty ostenta, which last would corre- 
spond to our minutes, if his hour was of the same length 
as ours. Honorius does not mention the unciae of Bartholo- 



Form and 
fire and 

Air and its 


stone, and 

mew.^ Bartholomew further tells us that Sunday is called 
the Lord's Day and is privileged in many particulars, since 
on it the world was created, the Lord was born, rose from 
the dead, and also sent the Holy Spirit. We have already 
presented Bartholomew's discussion of the Egyptian days in 
an earlier chapter. 

The tenth book, in nine brief chapters, is entitled, "Form 
and Matter," but after one chapter on form, discusses the 
elements. An element, according to Constantinus, is a sim- 
ple substance and the least particle of a compound body. 
The rest of the chapters are devoted to the particular element 
fire and to things closely associated with it, such as flame, 
smoke, sparks, and ashes. Carbo, "Rabanus says, is fire 
actually incorporated and united with earthly matter." Bar- 
tholomew's further description suggests our coal, but per- 
haps he has only charcoal in mind. 

The eleventh book treats in sixteen chapters of the ele- 
ment air and its "passions," such as winds, clouds, rain- 
bows, dew, rain, hail, snow, thunder and lightning, and leads 
up to the following book on birds, or rather, creatures of 
the air, since bees, flies, crickets, locusts, bats, and griflins 
are included in the alphabetical list of thirty-eight chapters. 
The birds described are for the most part familiar ones : the 
eagle, hawk, owl, dove, turtle-dove, quail, stork, crow, crane, 
hen, swallow, kite, partridge, peacock, pelican, screech-owl, 
sparrow, vulture, hoopoe, phoenix. Some of these creatures 
place precious stones in their nests to keep oft snakes, 
the eagle employing the gem achates ~ and the griffin an 

Swallows have gems called celidonii in their gizzards, 
one white and one red. The red variety is called masculine 
because it is of greater virtue than the white kind. These 
stones are especially valuable if they have been extracted 

* Migne, PL vol. 172, col. 147, 
"Hora ... est duodecim pars diei, 
constans ex quatuor punctis, 
minutis decern, partibus quin- 
decim, momentis quadraginta, os- 

tentis sexaginta, atomis viginti 
duobus mil, quingentis et sexa- 

'XII, I. 

'XII, 19. 


from the chick before it touches the ground, "as is said in 
Lapidarius where their virtues are described as Constantinus 
says." ^ Lapidarius can scarcely mean Marbod's poem on 
gems, since he wrote later than Constantinus Africanus, and 
while he discusses the chelidonius, he says nothing of ex- 
tracting it so soon and describes the colors of its two varieties 
as black and red,^ and so does Bartholomew later on.^ Mar- 
cellus Empiricus had called them black and white. ^ Cheli- 
donius seems to be derived from the Greek word for swal- 
low, x«^t5cb^, and to mean the swallow-stone. Pliny men- 
tions two varieties but simply states that they are like the 
swallow in color, not that they come from its gizzard. Fur- 
thermore he describes the color of one as purple on one side, 
of the other as "purple besprinkled with black spots." ^ 
Solinus mentions swallows but says nothing of any stone 
connected with them. Bartholomew, however, also men- 
tions the herb celidonia or swallow-wort. He cites Macro- 
bius for the story that, if anyone blinds the young of swal- 
lows, the parent birds restore their offspring's sight by 
anointing their eyes with the juice of this herb, a statement 
which is also found in Pliny. "^ Not only does the swallow 
contain gems of great virtue and know of healing herbs; it 
has medical properties itself. For instance, blood extracted 
from its right wing is a remedy for the eyes. 

Of the birds described by Bartholomew the iipupa or The 
hoopoe is especially associated with the practice of magic. and^Lic 
Pliny cites the poet Aeschylus as saying that the bird changes 
its form ; "^ and from Aristotle to modern French peasants 
it has been believed to build its nest of human ordure.^ After 

'XII, 21, "hi lapidi dicuntur number of other cases Bartholo- 

celidonii et sunt preciosi maxime mew's citations of Lapidarius do 

quando extrahuntur de pullo ante- not apply to Marbod. 

quam tangat terram ut dicitur in ' XVI, 30. 

lapidario ubi eorum virtutes de- * De medicamentis, cap. viii. 

scribuntur, ut dicit Constan. °NH 37, 56. 

Sanguis de dextra ala extractus ° NH 25, 50. 

oculis medetur. . . ." But per- 'NH 10, 44. 

haps the "ut dicit Constan." goes ' Bostock and Riley, English 

with these last words rather than Translation of Pliny's Natural 

the preceding. History, London, 1890 (Bohn Li- 

^Migne, PL 171, 1750. In a brary), II, 511 note. And see 


quoting Isidore, who in part uses Pliny,^ for the bird's sup- 
posed filthy habits, its frequenting sepulchers, and the state- 
ment that anyone anointed with its blood will see demons 
sufifocating him in his dreams, Bartholomew adds that its 
heart is used in sorceries. Students of nature (Phisici) say 
that when it grows old and cannot see or fly, its offspring 
tear off its outworn pinions and bathe its eyes with the juices 
of herbs — thus just reversing the relation between the swal- 
low and its young — and warm it under their wings until its 
feathers grow again and, perfectly renovated, it is able to 
see and fly as well as they. In Basil's Hexaemeron a similar 
story is told of the filial devotion of young storks toward 
their aged parent. The hoopoe's renovation by its young 
also is included in the Latin bestiaries,- but Bartholomew ap- 
pears to cite Phisici rather than Physiologiis.^ Thomas of 
Cantimpre's chapter on the hoopoe is similar to Bartholo- 
mew's except that all he says to connect it with magic is that 
anointing one's temples with its blood protects one from 
sorcerers and enchanters; but "how this is. Experimenter 
does not state." Vincent of Beauvais gives a somewhat 
fuller account of the hoopoe in his Speculum naturale and 
the bird's properties are also treated by Albertus Magnus in 
his De mtimalihus.^ and in the De mirabilihus niiindi as- 
cribed to him, also by Petrus Hispanus in the Thesaurus 
pauperum,^ and by Arnald of Villanova in Remedia contra 
maleficia. For the use of the bird's heart in magic Vincent 
cites a Liber de natura reriim, which perhaps is the Liher 
rerimi cited by Thomas of Cantimpre, who, however, in 
that case failed to copy the statement in question. Vincent 
attributes to "Pythagoras in The Book of the Romans," 
the statement that sprinkling a sleeping person with the 

D'Arcv W. Thompson's note on used; in BN 16099, fol. 97r, ph'i; 

Aristotle's History of Anunals, BN 347, fol. i26r, ph'ici. In the 

IX, 15. work of Thomas of Cantimpre, 

^'Etymologies, XII, vii, 66, in however, BN 347B, 14th century, 

Migne PL 82. 468. fol. 104V, "Dicit pit's" which may 

'Cahier (1851) ; De besfiis, I, stand for Physiologus, Philoso- 

51, ascribed to Hugh of St. Victor, phus. or Phisicus. 
in Migne PL 177, 50. * De animal, XXIII, in. 

* Phisici in the printed edition T/i^jaMr«5' /'OM/>^rMm, cap. 85. 


blood of the hoopoe will cause him to see phantasms of 
demons, which is essentially the same statement that Bar- 
tholomew draws from Isidore and Pliny. But Bartholomew 
sometimes cites Pythagoras in The Book of the Romans. 
These instances show the difficulty of dealing with medieval 
citations, but on the whole indicate that Vincent used in- 
dependently the same sources as Thomas and Bartholomew 
and made a different selection from them. 

In the thirteenth book Bartholomew deals with the ele- Waters 
ment water, with wells, streams, seas, ponds, pools, and 
drops of water, with some particular bodies of water such 
as the Tigris, Euphrates, Jordan, Lake of Tiberias, and 
Mediterranean Sea. In the last chapter fish are considered. 
As in the account of birds, use is made of Isidore and Pliny, 
notably concerning the cleverness with which fish escape the 
snares laid for them by fishermen. Some fish are said to 
help their fellows withdraw from the basket-like traps set 
for them by fishermen by seizing their tails in their mouths 
and pulling them out backwards. Aristotle, too, is cited and 
Avicenna is referred to several times on the question whether 
a particular fish is edible or not. But an authority especially 
employed in this chapter is Jorath or lorat, who in the bibli- 
ography at the end of the work is called a Chaldean. From 
his book on animals Bartholomew takes such details as that 
there are fish who live only three hours, who conceive from 
dew alone or in accord with the phases of the moon and the 
rising and setting of the stars. Dolphins, when a man is 
drowning, can tell from the odor w^hether he has ever eaten 
the flesh of a dolphin. If he has not, they rescue him and 
bring him safe to land; if he has, they devour him on the 

Bartholomew also depends upon Jorath for his account Jorath on 
of whales, which were not treated of by Pliny. The whale ^ ^ ^^" 
possesses a superabundance of sperm which floats on the 
water and, when collected and dried, turns to amber. When 
hungry, the whale has only to open its mouth and emit a fra- 
grant odor like amber, and the other fish, attracted and de- 


lighted thereby, swim into its jaws and down its throat. On 
some occasions, however, this pleasant breath, if it may be 
so termed, of the whale saves the other fish instead of luring 
them on to destruction. When a certain serpentine and 
venomous fish approaches, they take refuge behind the whale, 
who then repels the fetid odor of the newcomer by the 
sweetness of his own effusion. While Bartholomew lists 
the whale along with fish, he notes that Jorath says that 
terrestrial matter dominates in it over water, and that con- 
sequently it becomes very corpulent and fat, and in its old 
age dust collects on its back to such an extent that vegeta- 
tion grows there and the creature is often mistaken for an 
island and lures sailors to their destruction, — a reminiscence, 
we may suppose, of one of Lucian's stories. So fat is the 
whale that he must be wounded deeply to feel it at all, but 
once his inner flesh is reached by the weapon, he cannot en- 
dure the bitterness of the salt water, seeks the shore, and is 
easily captured. The whale cherishes its young with won- 
drous love, and when they are stranded on shoals it frees 
them by spouting water over them. When a severe storm is 
raging, it swallows them and they abide safely in its belly 
until the storm is past, when it vomits them forth again. 
Geog- In the fourteenth book Bartholomew treats of earth, and 

^^^Y' besides defining mountains, hills, valleys, plains, fields, 

and meadows, deserts, caves, and ditches in general, describes 

over thirty particular peaks or mountain ranges, most of 
which are named in the Bible, like Ararat, Bethel, Hermon, 
Hebron, and Horeb. But in the fifteenth book, on Prov- 
inces, his geography is that of classical antiquity and of the 
feudal world of his own time rather than that of Scripture. 
Where the medieval region was known under the same name 
in antiquity, he is apt to continue to use the old description 
of it, even though it may be really out-of-date and no longer 
closely applicable. Sometimes, however, as in the chapter 
on Burgundy, he uses only a little of Isidore's description 
and apparently writes the rest of the paragraph from per- 
sonal knowledge. And in the case of new localities and 





names, for which he can find no ancient and early medieval 
authorities, he describes the province intelligently and ac- 
curately as it is in his own time. On the whole his account, 
although its 175 chapters are brief, is of considerable value ^ 
for the political geography of Europe in the thirteenth cen- 
tury, both as a general survey showing what regions he 
deemed important enough to mention ^ and what he thought 
might be omitted, and also often for particular details con- 
cerning particular places, while it is sometimes enlivened by 
the spice of local or racial prejudice. 

* Yet neither Bartholomew of 
England nor Thomas of Can- 
timpre is mentioned by C. 
Kretschmer, Die physische Erd- 
kunde ini christlichen Mittelalter, 
1889, although he uses Neckam, 
Vincent of Beauvais, Albertus 
Magnus, and Roger Bacon. 

* Bartholomew's list of provinces 
with the Latin name anglicized in 
some cases is as follows. Asia, 
Ass3'ria, Arabia, Armenia, Aradia, 
Albania {i.e., in Asia), Attica, 
Achaia, Arcadia, Alania (land of 
the Alani), Amazonia (land of 
the Amazons), Alemannia, An- 
glia (England), Aquitaine, Anjou, 
Auvergne, Apulia, Africa, As- 
turia, Aragon, Babylonia, Bactria, 
Braciana, Brabant, Belgica, Bi- 
thynia, Britannia, Boecia(Boeotia), 
Bohemia, Burgundy, Cappadocia, 
Chaldea, Cedar, Kent, Cantabria, 
Canaan, Campania, Cauda, Cilicia, 
Cyprus, Crete, Cyclades, Choa, 
Corsica (later occurs a longer 
chapter on Korsica), Dalmatia, 
Denmark (Dacia). Delos, Dedan, 
Europe, Evilath, Ethiopia, Egypt, 
Hellas, Eola (Aeolia?), Fran- 
conia, Francia {i.e. France), 
Flanders, Fenix (Phoenicia?), 
Phrygia, Frisia, Fortunate Is- 
lands (Canaries), Galilee, Gal- 
lacia (in central Europe), Gal- 
licia (in the Spanish peninsula), 
Gaul, Gadis. Greece, Isle of the 
Gorgons, Gothia and the island 
of (Gothland (Sweden and Got- 
land), Guido, India, Hyrcania, 
Idumea, Judea. Iberia. Italy, Spain 

(Hispania), Ireland (Hibernia), 
Icaria, the island in the salt sea 
(De insula in salo sita), Carthage, 
Carinthia, Lacedemonia, Lithuania 
(Lectonia), Livonia, Lycia, Lydia, 
Libya (Lybia), Lorraine (Lotho- 
ringia), Lusitania, Mauritania, 
Macedonia, Magnesia, Mesopota- 
mia, Media, Melos, Midia, Meis- 
sen, Mytilene, Nabathea, Norway, 
Normandy, Numidia, Narbonen- 
sis, Ophir, Holland (Ollandia), 
Orcades, Paradise, Parthia, Pales- 
tine, Pamphylia, Pannonia, Paros, 
Pentapolis, Persia, Pyrenees, Pig- 
my-land, Poitou (Pictavia), Pic- 
ardy, Ramatheaj Reucia, Rivalia, 
Rinchonia, the Roman prov- 
ince {.i.e., Provence), Romania, 
Rhodes, Ruthia, Sabaea, Samaria, 
Sambia, Sabaudia, Sardinia, Sar- 
matia, Samos, Saxony, Sclavia 
(land of the Slavs), Sparta 
(Sparciata), Seres {i.e., China), 
Seeland (Zeeland), Semogallia, 
Senonensis (region about Sens), 
Syria, Sichima, Scythia, Sicyon, 
Sicily, Sirtes, Scotland (Scotia), 
Suecia (Sweden, before called 
Gothia), Suevia (Swabia), Tana- 
tos, Taprobana, Thrace, Traconi- 
tida, Thessaly, Tenedos, Thule, 
Tripoli (two are distinguished in 
Syria and Africa respectively), 
Tragodea, Troyland, Tuscany 
(Thuscia), Thuringia, Thuronia 
(the region about Tours), Gas- 
cony (Vasconia), Venice, West- 
phalia, Vironia, Finland, Vitria, 
Iceland, Zeugia. 





Citing Isidore, Bartholomew divides the world as in a T 
map into Asia, occupying one-half the circle, and Europe 
and Africa each occupying a quarter. Indeed he says later 
that Africa is smaller than Europe;^ Africa of course had 
not yet been circumnavigated. In speaking of Alemannia he 
alludes to other provinces "in either Germany" which are 
not included in his list of chapter headings : Austria and 
Bavaria near the Danube, Alsace along the Rhine, "and 
many others which it would be tedious to enumerate one by 
one." ^ He describes Apulia as the maritime region in Italy 
separated from the island of Sicily by an arm of the sea, and 
as a very populous land, full of gold and silver, rich in grain, 
wine, and oil, famous for its renowned cities, well fortified 
in castles and towns, fertile and fecund in varied crops. Brin- 
disi (Brundusium) is its metropolis, and across the sea from 
Apulia to the south is Barbary.^ Bartholomew thus uses the 
term "Apulia" as "Le Puglie" is used today, to include 
both ancient Apulia and Calabria, which he does not men- 
tion by that name. His description testifies to the greater 
prosperity of that region under the Normans and Fred- 
erick II than in later times, and also shows that Bartholomew 
is not blind to economic conditions in his survey of various 
regions. He is very apt, indeed, to tell whether the soil is 
well-watered and fertile or rocky and arid, and to describe 
the other resources of the district and the characteristics of 
the peoples inhabiting it. He speaks in high praise of the 
extensive dominions and sea-power of Venice and of the 
justice and concord of its citizens.^ He also recognizes the 
importance of the wool trade between England and Flanders.^ 

Bartholomew often undertakes to state the boundaries 

of a region under discussion. Sometimes he is clear and 

convincing in this, as when he states that Gascony used to 

be a part of Aquitaine, that it is bounded by the Pyrenees, 

the Ocean, and the county of Toulouse, and approaches the 

territory of the Poitevins to the north; that it is drained by 

»XV, 19. 
'XV. 13. 
'XV, 18. 

*XV, 169. 
'XV, 58- 


the Garonne river and that Bordeaux is its metropoHs.^ 
Sometimes his statements are confusing, but we must re- 
member that feudal states were very difficult to bound exactly 
and varied greatly in extent from time to time. Some mis- 
takes in the points of the compass are perhaps slips of copy- 
ists rather than of Bartholomew. He speaks of Brabant and 
Lorraine as the westernmost or frontier provinces of Ger- 
many. Brabant is bounded on the north by Frisia, the 
Britannic Ocean (North Sea), and the Gulf of Flanders; 
on the west by lower Gaul and on the south by upper France. 
It is watered by the Meuse and Scheldt." Lorraine is 
bounded by Brabant, the Rhine, Alsace, the region of Sens, 
and Belgic Gaul. Metz is located in it.^ Flanders is a prov- 
ince of Belgic Gaul next the seacoast, with Germany to the 
east, the Gallic sea to the west, and the region of Sens and 
Burgundy to the south. ^ 

Bartholomew is uncertain whether France is named from France in 
the Franks or from a free hangman (a franco cantifice) who teenth 
became king at Paris and from whom the executioners re- century, 
ceived privileges. Isidore does not mention Francia, so that 
Bartholomew does not derive this etymology from him. He 
seems uncertain also whether to identify France with all 
ancient Gaul or simply with Belgic Gaul. He would carry 
it south only to the province of Narbonensis and the Pen- 
nine Alps, but east to the Rhine and Germany. This per- 
haps is an attestation of the growing territorial power of 
the French monarch, but perhaps is also a hold-over from 
the ancient boundaries of Gaul. At any rate many of his 
other regions would overlap and conflict with a France of 
this size. He extols the stone and cement about Paris, which 
give it an advantage over other localities in building con- 
struction, and he further eulogizes the city itself as the 
Athens of his age which elevates the science and culture not 
of France only but all Europe.^ 

^XV, 168. '•XV, 58. 

'XV. 25. *XV, 57. 

•XV, 92. 



and the 

Leopold Delisle, writing in the Histo'ire Litteraire de la 
France, endeavored to claim Bartholomew as a Frenchman, 
despite the Anglicits that regularly accompanies his name. 
Yet for all Bartholomew's praise of Paris and Venice, his 
chapters on England, Ireland, Scotland, and Brittany ^ are 
alone almost enough to determine his nationality. He as- 
serts that Brittany should be called Britannia Minor, and the 
island Britannia Maior or Great Britain, since Brittany was 
settled by fugitive Britons from the island and the daughter 
should not be raised to an equality with the mother coun- 
try, especially since it cannot equal Great Britain either in 
population or merit." Also Bartholomew represents the 
Irish as savages ^ and describes the Scots in very unfavorable 
terms. His view is that if they have any good customs, they 
borrowed them from the English. He admits, however, that 
the Scots would be good-looking in face and figure, but then 
adds the insulting condition, if they would not insist on de- 
forming themselves by wearing their national costume.* But 
as for England, or Albion as it was once called, after describ- 

* Of these four chapters Delisle 
(HL XXX, 353-65) quoted only 
that on England. Delisle gave ex- 
tracts from Bartholomew's de- 
scriptions of